126 posts categorized "Breakthrough Living"

Get Back to Basics -- Guest Post by Lisa MacFarland

Hello, my name is Lisa MacFarland and I’ve been in a SUM relationship for 35 years. I have been
following the Spiritually Unequally Marriage ministry for over 10 years and I am so privileged and
honored to be a guest writer. I pray that you are encouraged by this post as much as I was when writing it. Thank you for the opportunity to share. Lisa Macfarland

Over a year ago, I wrote the phrase, “get back to the basics” and posted it on my desk corkboard at work. Lately, this phrase has been weighing heavier on my heart; sensing a strong need to get back to the basics. In many churches of today, I feel we confuse experiencing God’s love in a raw, basic way. Churches create chaos with so many programs, beautiful features, incentives, themes and hoopla to get people into the doors of church or to keep them engaged. People leave church with lessons on
forgiveness or who God is but they are still empty.

Individually, we cram our own lives with constant activities, to dos, and overall chaos so we don’t have to stop and face what might be really going on in our lives. Sadly, this keeps us from truly experiencing God’s love. We miss finding our identity in Christ, true joy, and our authority given to us as heirs to the throne. This lifeless chaos will cause many to lose their passionate heart connection with Christ, missing out on the blessings He wants to give us.

Between the world, our churches, and ourselves, we can find ourselves remaining in a cycle of brokenness that keeps us from a deeper, more authentic connection with the Lord. Our hearts and mind need to be cultivated into fertile soil to that the roots of our salvation grow deep and strong. When spiritual battles; storms of life come, and they do and will, WE WILL NOT BE SHAKEN!

Revelations 2:5: So remember where you were before you fell. Change your hearts and do what you did at first. If you don’t change, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Colossians 2:6-7: You accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, so continue to live following him. You must depend on Christ only, drawing life and strength from him. Just as you were taught the truth, continue to grow stronger in your understanding of it. And never stop giving thanks to God.

John 15:9-11: I have loved you as the Father has loved me. Now continue in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commands, and he continues to love me. In the same way, if you obey my commands, I will continue to love you. I have told you these things so that you can have the true happiness that I have. I
want you to be completely happy.

I know my heart longs to get back to the foundation upon which our salvation is rooted. I don’t want to just go through the motions, or get stuck in a cycle of busyness but I want to get back to the fundamental basics and cultivate my heart soil through daily prayer, reading God’s word, serving, and
sharing my story. Even when we don’t feel like it, keep showing up and eventually you will experience
breakthrough of peace, authentic joy, and deep connection with God. It’s then that God can truly bless us with the fullness He created us for.

About Lisa: I’ve been married for 35 years and together with my husband, Cameron, for 36 years. Funny story…met my husband in a bank robbery! I was a bank teller that was held up and he was my knight in shining armor, aka, police officer that responded. 😊 We have 4 adult children, 1 grand baby and 2 more on the way! And I can’t forget about my empty nest 10-year-old puppy, Marley, a Chihuahua in a Rottweiler’s body, haha. I mostly was a stay-at-home mom but then started working for my church over 20 years ago as the Lead Pastor Assistant and, a few years ago, I took over as Finance Director too. I was born and raised in church, started out in a Pentecostal Assemblies of God and now the church I’m part of is Southern Baptist. I love to read, crochet, walk, swim, fish, kayak  and just plain relax. After raising 4 children, I’m finally getting to enjoy all of it. 😊


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


Jehovah Perazim: Breakthrough Power Within You

Hello, dear friends, it's Ann here. Break the power within you

Last week we talked about life with the Holy Spirit. I so enjoyed those conversations.

Well, this week I want to share a couple of simple stories -- one today and one on Friday -- to describe something the Holy Spirit did on an otherwise ordinary day. In each story there is a truth for us SUMites to take away.

Are you sitting comfortably? Ok, here we go:

A few years ago, I was fast asleep in bed when I suddenly woke to feel a jolt of explosive power break out of me. KAPOW!!!  It felt like shards of diamonds had just exploded from within my innermost depths.

POW!

It was the descriptiveness of it that struck me. The sense I had was definitely of shards of diamonds. Precious stuff.

Why did I experience that, and what was God trying to say? I wasn't sure.

A few weeks later, however, he whispered this: Ann, that power was the breakthrough power within you that you carry. It will break out of you and change people and circumstances around you.

Amazing. What's more, I know that word wasn't just for me: It's for our community. For you carry the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, and I know that many of you stoke your relationship with God so fervently that this power will shift things around you eventually.

How I love this on-fire community of ours!

Christians use the word 'breakthrough' quite often to describe a change in circumstances, or even an inner change that they've been waiting for and praying for. As far as I'm aware it's not a term that's obvious in the Bible, but I do believe it's in there. Sometimes these terms catch on because a Spirit-led believer has experienced it and talked about it. 

So, where is breakthrough in the Bible? Well, I think a few tucked-away places.

First, the book of Micah describes a situation where the power of God is so great that breakthrough will occur --

He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the LORD at their head (Micah 2:13, ESV).

Second, there's a little scripture in the story of King David where David experiences a victory and declares God the Lord of breakthrough:

And David came to Baal-Perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me like a breaking flood.” Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-Perazim. (2 Samuel 5:20, ESV)

Reading that, I actually feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as I type. That tells me God is breathing on this concept for us. Perhaps we can linger there a moment. 

Jehovah Perazim, you are the Lord of breakthrough.

And finally, there's a curious story in the book of Genesis, where Judah's daughter-in-law Tamar carries twins, and during the birth one twin miraculously breaks through out of her womb:

When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. (Genesis 38:27-29, ESV)

Perez means the same as Perazim: Breakthrough. That baby, who broke through miraculously, ended up being the ancestor of Jesus. Breakthrough was in the DNA of Jesus and it's in ours too.

What do we do with all this? I think we are to just know about it. That is, we're to know that's what we carry, even if we can't see it with our natural eyes. What's more, we'll carry more of it the more time we spend with him. And, those around us will be changed by that, including our families.

We have the God of breakthrough intimately with us.

Whew, what a thought. Do you have any thoughts to share in the comments? I'll see you there.

Love,

Ann 

 


Inviting a Baptism of the Holy Spirit into Your Life

By Ann Hutchison Holy Spirit you are welcome 3

Years ago, I asked God a question: "What does it look like to walk with the Holy Spirit?" I had not read the Bible through yet, but I noted scripture mentioned gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as healing, tongues, and miracles; and I had questions for God about this.

A night or so later, I woke with a phrase in my head. The phrase was this: The voyages of Paul.

The voyages of Paul? Hmm. 

Now, I was a babe in the faith. I knew who the Apostle Paul was -- he wrote parts of the New Testament, but I didn't yet know he took voyages. "Did he take voyages?" I asked. Well, I went to Wikipedia and found that indeed he did! WOW.

Yep, that was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, and I sensed God was telling me to go and look at Paul's voyages to see how the Holy Spirit works in someone's life. When Paul took those voyages the Holy Spirit was active in his life, and his stories leave us examples of what that can look like.

Well, I still have those old notes from that day, and I'd like to share them with you now. I hope you like them. For me personally, they have refreshed me all over again, years on.

The Holy Spirit:

1. Speaks to you --

Especially when you worship and fast. He speaks through visions of the night or the day, dreams, pictures, symbols and analogies, and helps you understand scripture.

He warns you about certain things; and sometimes he gives instructions. This might be, for example, whether to step forward in a certain situation. Sometimes he will even forbid certain actions, not necessarily things that are a matter of conscience; rather, it's a 'not yet' or 'not here'.

He confirms his words to you by confirmations from others, and he says, 'Do not fear', and 'Take courage', strengthening you so that you continue in faith.

2. Helps you discern --

The Holy Spirit helps you look at a situation and know if it's God or Satan, enables you to recognize others' faith and, conversely, recognize the influence of evil in a particular situation.

3. Helps you speak --

He gives you words for others, which can greatly help them in their belief.

He enables you to speak accurately when necessary, though you will always be learning. Through him, you can speak true and rational words. You will testify to the grace of God, and he makes you God's witness.

He even might enable you to give others some divine insight, if you grow your skills in the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1).

Finally, he will enable you to speak boldly. Some still won't believe, but God does open hearts.

4. Grants signs and wonders

As you grow, the Holy Spirit will enable you to shake off the devil and be completely unharmed.

He will enable you to heal others, and even raise someone from the dead (Can I believe that? Yes I believe it).

Just as miraculously, he will enable you to open others' eyes and set people free of troubling spirits, strengthening the church as a whole, and increasing the size of the church. 

5. Strengthens you

Finally, he will have the effect of great joy on you and others and put a fervor inside you that stands up against anything on the outside.

**

WOW. How amazing, exciting and inspiring this is. All I can say is I want more and I know that it is there. This list was, after all, compiled from scripture (The Book of Acts chapters 13-28).

As for what it means for us today? Well, the Holy Spirit can come from an appropriate person laying hands on a person (see Acts 8:17-19), or by simply asking God in the quiet of one's home to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. 

To be baptized with the Holy Spirit is life-changing, and begins the above adventures. I believe God will give us only as much of the above-listed experiences as we can handle, according to our maturity and other circumstances. It's a beginning.

If you are reading this and haven't ever asked God for a baptism of the Holy Spirit, or simply want to ask him for more, you can do that in the quiet of your home. But, it would also be our honor to pray for you. If you would like, leave us a comment and we would absolutely love to pray for you! 

Love you, friends,

Ann


Shift our Focus: A More Simple Life

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Photo courtesy of Pexels.com and Scott Webb

Ian from wintry Sydney here. Happy 4th of July for all my American friends. Fiona and I were reflecting the other night how ‘play’ has changed so much for our children and grandchildren. Being born in the 1960s and growing up in the 1970s, we’d spend hours and hours a day playing. Swimming in the pool, riding our bikes with our friends, exploring the wonders and joys of the bushland, or simply using our imaginations to make up games and stories using basic objects like clothes pegs, shoe boxes and so on.

What fun! Life growing up was pretty simple. We didn’t need much money or things, just an active imagination and a willingness to experiment. We entertained ourselves.

The all-pervasive nature of electronic entertainment is so addictive for us all and our children. We have a plethora of screens to choose from and can find it easy to become a passive consumer of entertainment.

A Busy Life

A couple of months ago  I wrote about the Sabbath and why I’m only now beginning to understand why it’s important. Remember, God doesn’t give us a gold star if we practice the Sabbath, nor does He frown on us if we don’t. That’s not His way of loving us. Heck, He doesn’t need a Sabbath, but He still rested on the seventh day. Why? He knows it’s good for us.

Increasingly, as life gets busier and more distracted, plus the issues of climate change, poverty and over consumption, there are many who are now advocating that we look at simplifying our lives.

Even church life has got busy. If you’re a member of even a moderately sized church, there are often so many choices for what to participate in. Once again, these activities are mostly all good things. Why wouldn’t we participate in one or two?

Living Simpler

Firstly, why do it? My answer is a very simple one: to enjoy Jesus more. When caught up in all manner of activities, we simply miss out on spending good quality time with Jesus. Just being with Him. Or when we are with Jesus, we’re so distracted we aren’t fully present and miss out on all there is to receive.

We end up relying on ourselves or others to help us make decisions, some that may be very important. Look what David says in Psalm 25:

“Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
They will spend their days in prosperity,
    and their descendants will inherit the land.
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (v12-15 NIV UK)

He will instruct us in all our decisions. If we ask, and if we set our eyes on Him. And that takes time. I’ve learned that the way of the Kingdom is gentle and slow.

How do we do it?

We learn to say, No. I’m at a stage in life where I’m an empty nester and have flexibility in my day. Yes, it’s luxurious at present. But, I’m expecting it to be only a season. Time for me to consolidate so when a new season of ‘potential busy’ comes upon me.

We become intentional in certain practices. Solitude, stillness, Sabbath, special time with loved ones and friends. We learn to be present with others. Switch off devices for periods in a day. Yes, we really can survive time without them.

And we play. Have some fun. Dance. Smile. Listen well, love well, observe well. Find a place in nature to sit, to wander, to dream, to connect with Jesus.

Over to you now. How do you switch off and slow down? Be lovely to share in the comments so we can encourage each other. And if you’re in a particularly busy season and struggle to do any of this, why not share that too. Perhaps in sharing we can help carry another’s struggles.

Grace and peace, friends.


The Day My Husband Entered the Small Group Scene

Ann here, and I thought the title would make you smile. Yes indeed, I have a little story to tell today. Welcome

In Monday's post I left off where my small group had said: "Do invite your husband to the Christmas dinner, we would love to meet him."

Gulp!

Now, Bryce has said to me on a number of occasions that he finds the whole 'small group' concept difficult. He has a bad experience of growing up in an unhealthy and spiritually controlling church, and from that experience he was concerned that any small group I joined would be 'cultish and weird'. Those were hard words to hear, but hey, if this is how our spouse sees these things it's probably helpful to know. If we know, then we can try to understand and try to address it. Anyway, given all of that historical 'stuff' the thought of now inviting him to a small group Christmas dinner was not easy!

I wonder, though, whether at some point we all turn a corner where things become different? Where faith or church are not so contentious any more? Anyway, the long and short of it is that I plucked up the courage and asked him.

And ..... 

He said yes. No problem at all. Just like that. He said his 'yes' so easily, in fact, that I had to leave the room to process this massive new development, which felt like breaking news.

Now here's that same scene I described on Monday where I stand at a closed front door, behind which lies a small group, and I'm wondering how on earth this thing is going to go. Except this time my husband is standing by my side.

I hold a salad, he's carrying wine, and we're ready for a good time. He's perfectly cheerful but I've got a pounding heart. Why? It's the first time we've gone through the doors of church together since those difficult church days of his. Yes, it's only a small-group dinner, but it's the church.

We enter, join the chattering crowd on the back patio of the house, and before I can barely introduce him ... off he goes. Into a happy crowd and away from my side. And so the evening continued. Ann Bryce

Later, as the sun set, he and I were sat in a circle of comfy outdoor armchairs chatting with some of the others about church and other things. He liked them, they liked him. At that moment I looked up to see a beautiful rainbow in the dusky sunset. I took it as a wink from God and thanked Him -- Seriously, seriously thanked Him -- for this moment.

Oh my dear SUM friends, it was a fascinating turning of a corner, and I know you understand the emotions around this sort of thing. It was indeed 'breaking news' for it broke some kind of barrier. It also broke away some of my own lingering angst about our spiritual mismatch, bringing us together and showing me all over again 'God's got this'.

Some of us have spouses who do visit church or its social events; others of us find that area more tricky. But however it looks now, things can always change --

"For nothing will be impossible for God" (Luke 1:37, ESV)

Does your spouse come to church or social events or not? Let's chat more in the comments.

Love you loads,

Ann


Shift Your Focus

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Photo by Ethan Sees from Pexels

Happy New Year, my friends. I know it’s now February. Wow, where did January go? But this is my first post of 2022. I’m so looking forward to this year.

Where is our Focus?

A new year often brings new beginnings, new hopes, new challenges. Often it simply brings more of the same just in a new year. We can get caught up in channelling our focus and our thoughts on newness or on the existing. For those of us who can grapple with anxiety or worry, we can continue to allow ourselves to focus on the worries or the fears or the things that are making us anxious.

For many of us SUMites, the mismatched nature of our marriage will often feature prominently in our thoughts. Will 2022 be the year we see breakthrough? Will our partner find the Lord? And what if they don’t?

May I encourage you to simply take a few moments now (yes, stop reading this post) and simply ask the Lord to help you see what are some of the thoughts that are pre-occupying you at present? Why not jot them down.

The Enemy is a liar!

The Devil is a liar! John 8:44 tells us this. He will happily engage our minds with worries and fears that are simply … lies. I was reminded of this last week when I read a lovely post from Corrie Ten Boon1. She wrote of a day she was convinced she was coming down with the flu. It was also effecting her eyes as she was struggling to see properly. Corrie had to give a talk and was so consumed by her fear that she didn’t do it well.

“It is impossible to listen to the Lord’s voice while listening to our own fear. Fear is loud, insistent and time-consuming.”

That statement just hit me between the eyes. Because fear is just like that, isn’t it?

To conclude Corrie’s story, her secretary who had been sick happened to listen to her talk. Corrie was surprised to see her as she thought she’d be home in bed. But her secretary realised she had Corrie’s glasses by mistake and wanted to exchange them. They swapped glasses and ‘miraculously’ Corrie’s symptoms disappeared. She had been wearing the wrong glasses.

“When we agree with fear, our symptoms continue … instead of partnering with my symptoms, if I would have sought the Lord, perhaps I would have noticed Him pointing to what was really happening.”

Ever partnered with your fears, worries or symptoms?

Shift our Focus

Worry, fear and anxiety mean our hearts and minds are focused on something else. Jesus asks us to focus on Him. That doesn’t necessarily mean that our circumstances will change, it just means that we are able to hear from Him in our circumstance.

I love reading the Psalms, especially David’s. They express all our emotions: fear, worry, ecstasy, joy, peace and so on. David, as we know, did great things but also some not-so-great things. Often, he struggled when he’d taken his eyes off the Lord.

Psalm 16 is a wonderful psalm of hope. I particularly appreciate these words:

"I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure" (v 7-9)

He reminds us that when we keep our focus on the Lord we will not be shaken.

For many of us in mismatched marriages, we keep questioning why it’s taking so long, what do we need to do different or better. We might also worry about the things we feel we can’t do because of our partner won’t like it and it can all get a little overwhelming. Can’t it?

But Jesus simply asks us to shift our focus. Stop thinking about the worries, the issues, the shortcomings, the why nots, and start looking at Him. And not to take our eyes off Him.

Next time I will share a little on how we can shift our focus. How can we develop greater discipline in keeping our eyes on Jesus. In the interim, may I encourage you to spend time reading a Psalm of David’s. 16 or 91(probably written by Moses) or 23 are great places to linger. Linger. Spend a week, a month just lingering on the psalm. And pray them like a prayer, put yourself in David’s shoes.

Grace and peace, my friends.

1. Corrie Ten Boom, God is My Hiding Place: 40 Devotions for Refuge and Strength (Chosen Books, Minneapolis, 2021), 101.


Loving when it's hard

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Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ann’s most recent post has lingered in my mind for a few days and I thought I’d reflect a little more on it. If that’s okay? Ian here from a sunny Sydney.

We have those between a rock and a hard place moments don’t we? As I think I’ve shared a few times before, one of Fiona’s biggest fears is that she’ll become a ‘church widow’. There was a time a few years back when I attended a couple of prayer meetings a week on top of my Sunday commitments and whenever you have some form of leadership responsibility, pastoring and caring for those you lead takes added time.

Crunch Time

Like Ann mentioned, our partner reaches a point when it’s all too much. And I especially feel for you ladies because as I’ve said a few times over the years, for many men, their wife is not just their best friend but often their one true friend. Yes, we may have male ‘friendships’ but they’re quite different to our life partner.

Every few years it seems Fiona will express her concern that there’s a big part of my life that she doesn’t participate in. It’s not just the physical aspects of attending church and such, she’s also aware of the time I spend with God.

How Do we Respond

Ann gave some wonderful counsel and it’s this aspect I wanted to spend a little more time on. Ann encouraged us to look to the Rock. To Jesus. Yes and Yes. Early in my relationship with Fiona, I probably didn’t do this believing it just would add to the issue at hand. It wasn’t until I came to appreciate how much I needed Jesus that in fact He would help me through the matter.

How? Because He’s love. That’s who He is, isn’t He? It’s His natural state. And I believe that’s what we most need in these ‘between a rock and hard place’ situations. Love.

“Christ is love covered over with flesh” – Thomas Goodwin

I found I needed more of His love so that I can love my bride ever more and also gain greater clarity over the situation at hand. And I believe our partners see this love.

Companionship

If we try to manage the situation in our own strength, we’re likely to exacerbate it. But if we honestly and in all humility come to Jesus and seek His love and wisdom, He will reveal them. There’s unlikely to be a lightning bolt but rather we have Jesus as our companion.

It’s in His companionship we discover more of His love which changes us from the inside and this is what our partners see. In time. The deeper we go in His love, the more our partners will experience it and I believe we have less of these ‘crunch’ situations. Remember His love is endless and wonderfully, Jesus desires to share it with us in ever increasing intensity.

I’m more convinced that life is less about having all the answers and seeking to fix everything and everyone, but rather to walk through it with Jesus and others in tight companionship. So when the dark valleys appear we have trusted companions, one of whom is ‘clothed in love’ who will walk with us. Another of course is our beloved partner in life. They’ll be with us in the thick of it. We’ll grapple the uncertainties of the valley together.

This is the life I seek.

See you in the comments, dear friends.


In the Moment

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Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello dear friends, Ian from sunny locked down Sydney.

If you’ve followed my recent posts at the beginning of each month there’s been this consistent theme of connecting with God in the ordinariness of our day. For years, I think I often sought God in the big moments, hoping to receive some huge revelation or witness some ecstatic event in a church service. I do believe such moments occur but increasingly, I’ve found that living in the moment, irrespective of what I’m doing, is where I sense God’s presence.

Pleasant Surprises

A couple of weeks ago, I took Dad to an appointment with a new specialist whose clinic we hadn’t visited before. Both of us were a little anxious because of not knowing what was in store. As we walked into the waiting room, I said quietly, ‘Lord, you are here.’ Immediately, I relaxed as a I pictured Jesus standing in the room, a big smile on his face, inviting us to come in and sit.

We were thirty minutes early (Dad’s insists on it) which the receptionist reminded us when we sat down. But we weren’t sitting for long as Dad was ushered into the scanning room for his ultrasound. That was soon over and immediately the surgeon appears and ushers us into his room for the consult. That didn’t last long either and we were out thirty-five minutes after arriving, so we were finished up five minutes after our appointment was due to start.

This doesn’t usually happen. It’s incredible how much of a relief it is for both Dad and I.

A week or so later, we had a similar experience with Dad’s Eye Surgeon. An appointment that usually takes between one and two hours was all over within forty minutes. Once again, Dad had to have scans, followed by a consult before having an injection in his eye for macular degeneration (Dad says it doesn’t hurt). We get moved around from room to room and each time we moved I just pictured Jesus walking with us.

Afterwards, Dad was so positive and contented which was a bonus. He happily shared with others on getting back to the nursing home how pleased he was with the appointment.

Vine and Branches

We’re all probably familiar with the vine and branch analogy Jesus speaks about in John 15 in his words on abiding with Him. I’ve lingered on it for a few weeks. God is the vine and we are the branches. We are always connected to the vine; God is right with us at every moment.

We can only produce fruit that’s important to God unless we remain in Him:

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4 NIV)

Read that verse a few times.

For years I’ve wondered how one ‘remains in God (the vine)’. Do we have to do anything special? Increasingly, I feel it’s just acknowledging His presence with us. Saying something like, “Lord, you are here” or “God, I abide with you” at any moment is a wonderful way of simply being with Him.

Even when I sin (again and again) I now make a point of not shying away from God but acknowledging my sin, asking forgiveness and saying I now abide with you. Do it now, not wait for my night time prayer or next day prayer.

You know how you start chatting with your partner and you sense there’s something wrong or you might in trouble? I’m beginning to invite God into the exchange by stopping to acknowledge Him in my mind. I find when I do this, I have greater patience and am less likely to get flustered or angry or frustrated. This doesn’t happen all the time but I’m discovering how in connecting to God’s love, I’m filled with more of it for my partner.

If you haven’t already may I encourage you to keep inviting Jesus into your day repeatedly.

Grace and peace, dear SUMite friends


An Unusual Prayer

Happy Monday, SUM family!  Last week on our Facebook page I did a video about an evangelist's wife who once prayed this prayer: Help me love my husband more, but help me be less 'in love' with him!

Is that a good prayer to pray? Well, take a listen to this video about her story, see what you think, and perhaps we'll chat in the comments!

 


Invite the Lord into the Ordinariness of Every Day!

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello, everyone. Ian from Sydney here. Last month I wrote a post on the seeking to live in the unforced rhythms of grace by taking on the Lord’s easy yoke. Increasingly, I’m discovering how important it is especially amongst the everyday stresses and strains that we all experience. Accordingly, I wanted to reflect a little more on living such a life.

Beholding

“We become what we behold” – William Blake

My word of the year is ‘Behold” and it doesn’t take long to understand the truth in it. The more time we spend thinking about something, focusing on something, the more entrenched it becomes in our minds. It’s now commonly acknowledged in science that the more beholding we do the more it will affect our thought patterns, our feelings and behaviours. Addiction behaviour is often  a reflection simply of beholding something too frequently and for too long. Hence, the studies that have identified the negative associations of too much video gaming, watching inappropriate content and such like. It literally changes our brain.

And it’s the same with beholding God. The more time we spend with Him, the greater influence the Spirit will have in our lives. We only have to look at Paul’s quote in Philippians 4:

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (v 8 MSG)

A Recurring Invitation

I expect we’re all familiar with the blind beggar who Jesus heals in Luke 18. Here we have a situation where Jesus approached Jericho accompanied by a crowd of people which clearly doesn’t happen every day in these parts. A blind man happened to be sitting on the roadside and asked what all the commotion was about, to be told that Jesus is passing by.

The blind man has clearly heard about Jesus and what He can do so he yells out to get his attention: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Yes, this is quite a bold desperate cry. It reminded me a little of the woman with long term bleeding who stretches through a packed crowd simply to touch the edge of Jesus’ cloak. She, like our blind man, believes the stories that Jesus can indeed heal.

Jesus is always passing by. Wherever we are, He is present. Jesus desires relationship with us. Not just in our prayer times, not just on Sundays in church, not just in our home groups. But all the time. Why? Because He knows that our best life is with Him. In constant communion. To abide. To be with Him. He knows we can only produce lasting fruit if we stay connected like a branch to a vine.

So He waits to be invited. He’s respectful and considerate. And as we can see, He’s not opposed to a desperate cry or act. Because he looks at the heart.

Paul prays we will invite Jesus in in his famous prayer of Ephesians 3:14-19 (MSG): Here’s just the one verse -

“ … that Christ will live in you as you open the door, and invite him in … to live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”

How do we do it?

I’ll start with some practices I do and then it would be wonderful if others could share some that work for them in the ordinariness of every day. Here goes:

  1. I say, “Lord you are here”. I might say this at the breakfast table, walking the dog, driving in the car to pick up Dad to take to a medical appointment, sitting in the waiting room at said appointment. You get the idea. Anywhere, anytime. You might have your own little welcome.
  1. Express gratitude. I walk the dog early and typically I will be grateful to God for the beautiful blue sky, the breath in my lungs, for the new day.

            I find gratitude opens my heart and sets me off praying.

  1. Praise, praise and more praise. I praise God. Most mornings and many times a day I will often simply say, “You mercies are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” Praise opens our hearts and serves as a great fear disabler. Have a look at Psalm 34.
  1. I close my day with Examen. It’s an Ignatian practice for reflecting on your day. It’s brief and once you get in the habit of it, you’ll find you’ll look forward to it. And you can do it any time during a day and multiple times if you like; my Pastor does it 3 times: morning, noon and night. Here’s a link if you want to know a little more about it. Like most practices there are different forms and different organizations have developed mobile Examen apps which you can download.

Okay. Over to you all. What practices have you found beneficial to enabling you to continue to behold God during the ordinariness of every day?

We’ll see you in the comments. Warmest blessings.


The easy yoke ...

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Hello, dear friends. Ian from a very chilly Sydney. I’m hoping those of you in the northern hemisphere are having lovely vacation time in warmer climes.

We just finished a marvellous series from Ann on slaying giants. I was particularly grabbed by Ann’s idea of taking hold of 5 stones (like teenage David) as a weapon against our giants. In my comment to that post I mentioned my 5 stones. I wanted to explore one of them a little further in this post.

Stress and anxiety

For several years now I’ve been a significant carer for my elderly parents. They’ve both recently spent some time in hospital and delightfully were housed a few rooms away from each other. Mom is now home, and Dad is being discharged as you read this post. I’m continually surprised how draining it is. Managing the hospital staff, my siblings while acting as the go between for my parents and the staff.

And so I get quite stressed and anxious. About fixing things and getting everything sorted. Because that’s what I do. I get things done.

But God has a different approach. And He doesn’t want us to burden ourselves.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

For a while now the Lord has placed these words on my heart. As some of you will know I’m prone to anxiety and much of mine is self-induced and I’ve been asking the Lord to show me how to ‘take his easy yoke’ and let go of my need to fix everything or get it done while raising my anxiety levels.

I’m still very much on training wheels but here’s a few points that I’ve learnt about accepting/receiving the Lord’s easy yoke:

1. Be still and know that I am God

Stillness. I’m increasingly discovering how important this is. But it’s hard isn’t. When I have a racing heart, sometimes to slow down and stop is difficult. I must fight the urge to get up. Using meditations help me do this by regulating my breathing (slowing it down) and listening to particular worship songs, generally ones that have only a few words.

And then I wait and listen. ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come’ I repeat quietly and then I wait some more. And go off in my mind to a lovely spot and find Jesus where we sit down together and often just do that. Sit. Jesus might put his hand on my shoulder and we watch a beautiful sunrise or similar.

Sometimes I receive reassuring words. Often, not.

2. Surrender

And then I hand off my struggles. Solving Dad’s catheter bag issue, frustrations at my brother for not doing something, worrying mom will be sick again today. These three matters were top of mind this morning for me.

I send them down the stream that Jesus and I sit beside. Or I hand them to him.

And let go of them.

This last point is vital. We gotta let go. That doesn’t mean we do nothing. Absolutely not. We still make the phone call to the nurse to organise the bags, etc, etc. But we let go of the outcome and the stress related to getting that outcome.

I only read this yesterday: “Living a life of faith often requires us to leave things alone.” (A.B. Simpson) God can sure do a better job than we can.

And then I receive peace. Just like Paul says in this very popular passage on anxiety and peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Yes, it may be a day full of stress because something doesn’t work out with getting Dad discharged. But God knows. And His easy yoke is there for me to grab a hold of tomorrow. And the next day and on.

What’s one way that helps you take the ‘easy yoke’? Be lovely if we could build up our own little collection of helpful practices that will encourage all of us.

Grace and peace.


Born to Be Lovers

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Hi! Ian from wintry Down Under.

Love! It tends to be something we compartmentalize, don’t we? It’s how we feel about our spouse and children, our parents and there’s this industry around romance, the books and movies. Strangely, or perhaps not so, it’s actually not talked about a lot. When asked what I’m writing about, people often give me strange looks when I mention it’s a book about love. “It’s unusual for a man to talk and write about love,” said a lady I met picking my mom up from a dental appointment when I happened to mention what I’m writing about.

I will often squirm when I’m sharing it with a new group of people especially one only of men. I get these strange looks and the subject quickly changes because it’s an uncomfortable subject. Why is it something we find uncomfortable discussing and even if we do we might confuse it with sex (men more likely too)?

We were made in the image of God. Right. And He’s a God of love. Right. That must mean we’ve been made in love and love is an inherent characteristic of our makeup. John 3:16 is perhaps the most recognized verse in the western world. Why? Because it’s written in big bold print at most major global sporting events like the Olympics and the football World Cup. Most of us reading this book probably recall it immediately: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV). Besides being a statement of the gospel, it also clearly states God’s modus operandi, that is, the particular way He works.

By love!

God loved the world and everyone in it so much that out of that love He sent Jesus to live incarnationally amongst us, to then die and be raised from the dead. God did it out of … love. This is how He works. Whether it’s in the macro way of the world or within the micro way of an individual, He only knows the one way of operating: in love. Certainly, this love takes different forms depending on the circumstance but everything He does reflects love.

Love in Action

If God’s way of working is by love, is He not inviting us into His world to operate the same way. I wonder if the big question of what’s life about has a relatively simple answer:  to live a life of love.

Jesus even reminds us, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)” No wonder so many in the world struggle with the church and Christians because we so often don’t do very well at loving others. It grieves my heart when we see evidence of abuse within churches, churches breaking up, Christian marriages ending, supporting acts or individuals whose behaviors and words clearly don’t reflect the principles of love.

Yes, we can excuse ourselves for being human. We make mistakes, we sin, because we’re human. The church is full of fallible humans who make mistakes all the time. I know I do. Every. Day. It’s important we be compassionate and extend grace to ourselves and to others.

Love is hard work, isn’t it? Especially when your partner is grumpy or worse, your kids are driving you nuts, or someone hurts you and we can go on. We can’t really love in our own strength and the wonderful thing about walking with Jesus is we don’t have too. And we’re not supposed to. God invites us to love like He does. With a compassionate heart.

As I go deeper with God, the more I find I need to go even deeper, and I want to because through Him we can learn to love better, even when we struggle to. But how do we do it?

Here’s a few suggestions. Why not add your own to the list in the comments? What’s something that’s helped you love better?

  1. It starts with time with God. Prayer, solitude and silence are so pivotal to growing our connection with the lover of our souls. Like any good relationship quality time is essential. Solitude and silence help us listen. Prayer is more about getting God into us; it helps us detach from ourselves so our hearts can be transformed (slowly) into being better lovers.
  2. Actions speak louder than words. Choose to do something that’s about another. It might be a simple text to a friend asking after them or specifically praying for them. I always find that when I pray the Spirit nudges me to do something for another. This is God’s way.
  3. Listen first and hold off giving your own advice or opinion. I struggle with this all the time. We like to solve people’s issues, don’t we? Before expressing an opinion, ask a question. Listen. Ask another question. Listen. Wait for your partner, child, friend to ask for your input. Eek.
  4. Pray for someone who hurt you. Express your hurt to God. Remember, He’s the compassionate one. Imagine Him hugging you and after a while see if you can simply ask God to bless the one who hurt you.

I’m continually amazed by this little community of ours and reading of how various members love one another and their partners and kiddies, even under some very challenging circumstances.

Let’s continue to be known for our love.

Much love, my friends.


"How long, Lord?"

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Hello, dear SUMites, Ian from sunny Sydney. The world was turned on its head this time last year when the first people outside of China began to be diagnosed with this new virus strain which the medical community named COVID-19. The virus soon spread exponentially (a term that became part of our daily lexicon) throughout every land, borders in many countries were quickly shut and panic set in.

A year later, some countries are still in the thick of it. Vaccines are being rolled out to the masses and everyone’s hoping and praying that by the end of 2021 the world might go back to normal.

Lament

The loss of life, both in terms of deaths but also change in daily routines, access to family and friends, loss of employment, and so on has been immense. The world has been crying out, ‘how long will this go on?’ The shock and disbelief still reverberates.

For those of us who follow Jesus it’s made many of us question where God is in all of this. “How long, Lord?”, like the Psalmist has become a common refrain along with many other cries from the heart. Lament, a passionate expression of grief or sorrow, is a very acceptable posture before the Lord. As Pete Greig states, “struggle and travail are important expressions of biblical spirituality. Lamenting is more than a technique for venting emotion. It is one of the fruits of a deepening spiritual life that has learned to stand naked before God without shame or pretense …”1

If you’re familiar with the Psalms2, you’ll most likely be aware that at least one-third of them are laments where the writer is in the midst of some unresolved pain.

If you’re grappling with some unresolved pain, may I encourage you right now to express your pain, sadness, grief, disappointment, fear or frustration to the Lord. Sit quietly and be gentle with yourself, grab some tissues and simply ask Jesus to be present. And now share whatever you’re feeling. Take your time. Jesus won’t leave.

If you expressed your emotion and feel up to it please let us know in the comments so we can join you in your lament.

Solution or a Person

I was struck the other day by two stories of lament, one Biblical (from Job) and another about a marriage breakdown. We’re all familiar with Job’s story of incredible loss that occurred suddenly. He lost his family, his possessions, his health, everything. Friends came to counsel him while Job cried out to God. And heard nothing in reply nor was his situation resolved or fixed.

I find when I’m struggling with unresolved pain, I just want God to fix it. Heal me, open a door, provide something and so on. Or at the very least an explanation. ‘Why has that friend suddenly deserted me? What have I done?’ Anyone else with me?

We want the answer, the solution, the explanation, so we can control the situation, make sense of it. When we understand something, we are able to exercise greater control over it.

But so often, nothing happens. Right? Like Job, it makes no sense. ‘How long, Lord?’ we cry for the umpteenth time.

Let’s go back to Job. After 37 chapters, God finally responds. And what a response it is. Let’s look at the first few verses, but I’d encourage you to read the rest.

‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
   Tell me, if you have understanding. 
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
   Or who stretched the line upon it? 
On what were its bases sunk,
   or who laid its cornerstone 
when the morning stars sang together
   and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? (v 4-7)

What tone do you hear in God’s voice as you read these verses? A harsh demanding one or a loving Father that speaks tenderly and honestly? The former makes God to be a critical judge that chides his impatient underling, while the latter makes Him to be a caring Father who happens to have the entire universe in His hands. Included in this universe is suffering Job.

God has never left Him. Not for a minute. Everything and everyone is in His loving care. Similarly, to Job, God hasn’t left us during this past year. He’s still very much in control.

What do we prefer? The solution or Him? The provision from His hands or His warm embrace saying He’ll never leave us or forsake us?

May I encourage us to choose to believe that our loving God is always with us irrespective of our circumstances and He wants us to continually turn to Him, for Him and not just the solution. He is always the answer! He wants us to surrender control, even if we can only do it with gritted teeth. Yes, cry out for the solution you seek, and He may well provide but most importantly He will give Himself which is the best thing we could ever hope for.

Much love, my friends.

Notes:

  1. Lectio 365 App, Tuesday 2 March 2021 “Learning to Lament” Words taken from Pete Greig’s book, ‘God on Mute’
  2. Some of the well-known Lament Psalms include: 6, 10, 38, 42-43, 130.

A Blessing of Peace

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Hello, my SUMite friends. Ian, from Down Under here. I trust everyone is holding up okay under the continued stress of the global pandemic. It has sure been an unsettling time for all of us and finding ‘peace’ can be especially difficult.

One of the blessings of the Beatitudes refers to being peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9). However, to be a peacemaker we first need to be able to receive peace. I know I often struggle to engage the peace that is already present inside us through Christ. If I’m grappling with some internal struggle or feelings of anger, fear, bitterness or lust I may hide these away instead of drawing closer to Jesus and engaging the peace that resides in me.

Jesus Walking in the Room

I love the scene in John 20, the day after Jesus’ resurrection, when the disciples are locked in the Upper Room terrified the Jewish leaders are going to break down the door and haul them away.

Let’s read it together:

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23 NIV)

Jesus appears. Yes, he simply appears. He doesn’t need to open the door in his resurrected body because he has taken on his divinity that he let go of 33 years earlier.

And what are his first words: “Peace be with you.”

Put yourself in the scene. Yes, if you can listen to this scene and picture yourself as one of the terrified disciples it makes the experience even better. And God appears. Offering His peace.

Receive it. Breathe in His peace. And breathe out the stress, the worry, the whatever.

When Jesus says it for a second time, receive it. And picture yourself receiving his breath upon you as he breathes the Holy Spirit over you. Breathe it in, breathe out the worry.

Closed Doors

What doors have you closed in your heart and mind? Let Jesus appear in them. And picture him saying those wonderful words, “Peace be with you.” Not just once, but twice.

Breathe in the peace, breathe out the shame, the anger, the fear, the worry that has been locked up in that room.

Our Shepherd

Psalm 23 is my favourite Psalm. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. And what I love most about it is the peace I receive as I meditate upon it. We have a shepherd who says ‘we want for nothing’. This is what living in his Kingdom is all about: living in continual peace, irrespective of our circumstances.

And the Kingdom is here now. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 NIV)

May I encourage us to meditate on Psalm 23. Once again, you may enjoy listening to it. Picture yourself with Jesus, our shepherd. And after each verse, perhaps say, “I can relax”.

May I close with this blessing over us all. One we’re familiar with I’d suggest. Receive it as you read it:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

Peace be with us all. In Jesus’ wonderful Name. Amen.


How Do We Linger Long with the Lord?

Dear friends, Ann here. Linger

Last week I shared a story about a shift in my home. A good shift. If you missed that post, you can read it here. Essentially, a peace came and settled between me and my hubby, and we stopped having disagreements about faith or church.

Wonderful!

Perhaps at some point in a SUM, this is what happens. I would be interested to hear in the comments if any others of you have found that. I know that Lynn felt that shift one or two years before her husband, Mike, got baptized.

Now, I keep a careful diary about my life with God, and in the case of this particular shift I looked back and noticed something curious. At the very time that the shift with my husband happened, I had begun to do something new: I had begun to linger a little longer with the Lord.

It was right when I began to linger a little longer that a peace descended in my home. 

So, I'd like to share a bit about my journey with that.

Like many of us, I've had a busy life for a long time. I worked as a lecturer at the University of Auckland, a busy job. And, of course, I had my family. Despite the busyness, I would spend daily time with God, but there sometimes wasn't the capacity to spend as much time as I wanted. That is the case for many, I know. And life has seasons, God understands. 

Anyway, 2019 rolled round and God took me on a little adventure there. First, he made it clear that he had a new plan for me and that I was to leave my job. I didn’t know exactly why, but I duly waved goodbye to my colleagues, and began a time of being a housewife.

It was then that the Lord nudged me to do something rather counter-cultural. Here's what he asked:

“Ann, would you try giving me your whole morning, and see what happens?”

My whole morning? Every morning? Umm ... I'd actually like to!

So I did. It looked like this: Get up, make coffee, see the boys off to school, and then sit with God. Sit. Sit. Sit some more. Until midday. In those hours, I did nothing except chat to him, read scripture, worship, journal, look back on stories of his faithfulness in my life or others' lives, pray for others … And focus 100% on filling myself up.

Some might say to that: "Wow, that's kinda lazy!" Well, that was the question for me. Was I being lazy? I will confess to being a natural couch potato. So was it lazy, or was it the most worthwhile thing I could do? 

I had to count the cost. It meant we would not be living in a show home, for housework came second. I had less space in my diary. I didn't really get to go round the shops much that year, which I otherwise would have enjoyed. I did without some pleasures. It made me a bit serious in some ways, because matters of faith are serious if we go near the topic of others' salvation, good and evil, and so on. But, I became addicted to the Lord.

And somewhere in amongst this lingering, the presence of God came and brought some new peace. Things shifted. 

It wasn't just my marriage. It was myself. I began to feel constantly like I had been injected with happy drugs. For that is the abundant life of Jesus.

Now, to come back to earth: Yes, it was a treat, and usually it's not practical to linger that long. Especially if you work, or have toddlers. But what we can do is say this: "Lord, I'd like to give you a little bit longer than I have before" Then, "How can I rearrange my life so that I can linger with you?"

It might just be 10 minutes more than we did before. It might be one lunch-break a week at work. That is lingering … A little longer than we did before.

And, if we find it hard to concentrate, hard to linger, if we find we get distracted, we can pray for help with it: Lord, help me to linger a little longer with you!

How easy or hard do you find it to linger at the moment? What kinds of obstacles get in the way? Let's chat! 


Living an Extra (Ordinary) Life

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Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello, dear friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. It’s a big few days in America with the election and we all around the world watch on eagerly with prayerful hearts.

Recently, I came across a little-known Saint, Alphonsus Rodriguez, who lived in Spain in the 1500s. Rodriguez was in his 40s, a widower, with no children and a bankrupt,  who on seeking to join a Jesuit monastery was told he was too old and too uneducated to become a priest. He was sent to a Jesuit College on the island of Majorca where he served as a porter and doorkeeper. He turned door-keeping into a sacramental duty. Every time the doorbell rang, he would say, “I’m coming, Lord!” and would then welcome the visitor as Christ himself.

Many brilliant young priests passed through the college. Alphonsus welcomed each one lavishly and many of them turned to him for spiritual counsel. One of them was a man named, Peter Claver, who began meeting with Alphonsus, now 72, on a daily basis. The doorkeeper encouraged the young priest to travel to South America where he devoted his life to caring for slaves, for which he was later recognized as a saint.

Alphonsus Rodriguez was also made a saint, canonized for his own brand of quiet heroism expressed in a life of humility, hospitality and friendship that impacted vast numbers of people across the globe.note

Our Little Lives

Sometimes we can question whether we’re making our lives count. We’re just going about our days as spouse, parent, employee/employer, friend, sibling, child and on wondering whether we’re really making any impact. Inherent in all of us is a desire for significance. Perhaps this drive is stronger in men, I don’t know, but we can also let it lead us astray in chasing after the ‘big’ thing that will make us feel better about ourselves and fill us with pride for being a ‘somebody’.

We’re already significant, aren’t we, in the simple fact that God, the creator of the universe has chosen to give each of one of us, life. That’s right, our God thinks we’re pretty awesome because He made us. We were significant before we were born because God thought of us before we even made an appearance in the womb.

The Great Commission

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a NIV)

We’re all familiar with these verses and for many of us we can feel burdened by thinking we’re not doing anything ‘great’ for the Kingdom. Or we might feel this is someone else’s responsibility, that is, those people specifically called to a ministry role of some description.

But, no, we are all called to make disciples. Yes. Every single one of us. But we don’t have to be burdened by it; we can in fact be playing our part by continuing to live out our own little lives. For most of us, the Great Commission will be outworked in our own homes, schoolyards, workplaces, cafes and such like.

How?

Alphonsus Rodriguez provides us with the example. “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV). We get to choose how we treat everybody we come across today: “I’m coming, Lord!”

Like Alphonsus, we may never know the impact such an attitude might have on our legacy. He most likely had no knowledge that Peter Claver was canonized for his role in South America having passed away long before.

Just Start

Often, we get stuck in thinking we have to do something significant.

“Start where you are, where you can be of service, not a hero.” (Joan Chittister)

Start with your spouse. Start with your kids even if they’re driving you nuts. Start with your work colleagues. Choose love. Choose to think you’re addressing the King of Kings. You’ll be surprised how once you start, you’ll keep doing it. And then it spreads. Love begets love. Care begets care.

And in the ordinariness of life, something extraordinary begins to take root.

“I’m coming, Lord!”

Grace and peace, dear friends

Note: my inspiration for this post came from Lectio365 Monday 2 November 2020 Devotional titled: Alphonsus Rodriguez: Hero of Hospitality.


Graves into Gardens

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Photo courtesy of Rob D and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear SUMite friends, Ian from wintry Sydney here. It's just turned July 1 here and it's incredible that half the year has already passed. Who could have anticipated what would go down this year? As I've mentioned previously, the Lord put on my heart the word, 'Awakening', in January but I had absolutely no sense of what that meant. Much has occurred for me personally, but it pales compared to all the global events.

Awakening

There is an awakening happening across the globe and it's important for us to hold on to the belief that God is in charge. And good has come out of these difficult times and will continue to I expect for years to come. 

Life for all of us is going to look different for a while, isn't it. Everything we're used to (outside of our homes) is having to be adjusted, whether it's the simple things like hugging friends, attending church, schooling for our kids, working out at gyms or eating at our favourite eateries. The list goes on.

Stay Connected

Even when it's challenging to be physically close, choose each day to stay connected with friends. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Schedule at least one contact per day - ring someone, Zoom/Facetime someone and be very present with them. Switch off other devices, email, clutter all around you so you can be fully focused on your friend. And be slow to share rather ask questions seeking to listen and care for your friend. Your turn will come to share, maybe not this time but the next.
  2. Embrace solitude with God - enables us to simply pause and take some time out from the world, family. Breath deeply a couple of times and try to clear your mind. There are a lot of apps that help us do this but I'll refer you once again to John Eldredge's One Minute Pause app which I and a number of my friends have found particularly beneficial in these crazy times.
  3. Encourage someone today - I have a saying that 'everyone needs a Barnabas in their life' and I try to be one every day. It can be as simple as a smile to a passer by, a quick check in to your neighbour, a text message with a heart emoji ("I'm thinking about you") or a note to say well done. Don't seek a thank you. God knows, that's all that matters. 

Worship

Who loves singing worship songs? At home? In the car? It's good isn't it! It awakens (that word again) our hearts and pours faith and belief into us.

I expect many of us will have seen the various collaborative versions of Kari Jobe/Cody Carnes "The Blessing"; the churches down under even did a version which I love. But it's this one from Elevation Church that is particularly relevant for these times.

Sing along and believe these lyrics because our Lord does indeed "turn graves into gardens, bones into armies, seas into highways and mourning to dancing" We are living in a moment in history that God has deemed for us to live in and oh, the wonder we are going to see. 

Get ready!


Calm in the Storm

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Image Courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography and Free Digital Photos.net

Hi, Ian here from sunny Sydney. Wow, who could have imagined when I wrote about supernatural happenings and wilderness experiences in my last post that a few weeks later almost the entire would be thrust into wilderness.

It’s scary with how fast things have moved. Our lives have been turned upside down haven’t they, normal routines (as Ann reflected yesterday) for entire households have been dramatically changed, there’s no short term certainty about many of the physical things of life: jobs, incomes, schooling, church attendance, exercise regimes and of course the health of our families, particularly those of us who are in the ‘more vulnerable bracket.’

God is Unchanging

But God. He is the one certainty we have, and I also believe it is certain that this wilderness experience will end, however, none of us can be very sure either, when it will end, and what the next season will look like for each of us.

God is good. All the time. All the time, God is good.

What we Focus on is Important

Lynn in her weekend post shared of the bombardment of bad news. My morning routine usually involves me reading the paper before heading off to the gym. But I found I was carrying this understated anxiety and tension as a result of allowing myself to receive the bad news. The Holy Spirit nudged me one day as I trudged off to the gym and told me to stop reading the news. Now it’s been a habit since I was about eight years old (I used to sit with Dad reading the paper together eating breakfast), however, the next morning, I went straight to a meditation app as I sat down over my morning coffee. I’ve enjoyed the freedom of receiving good news first thing in the morning while setting my eyes on the Lord as soon as possible in the morning.

We’re probably all familiar with the following verses in Hebrews:

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)

How do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus when everyone is home ALL THE TIME and trying to get some alone time is near impossible. I know there are many couples (put aside the kids for the moment) are just not used to spending so much time together and these couples have to work our new habits for both their relationship and each other.

May I encourage you to talk often about each other’s needs and how the other can help out. For example, for most of our 25 years together I’ve known it’s important for my wife that we spend time together in the evening. It’s not so much about doing the same thing but simply being present and enjoying each other’s company and presence. And so that’s we’ve done.

I suspect for many husbands this is a very unsettling time as we’re used to heading off to work, having a clear plan for the day and being away from the home. Similarly, for the girls, it’s strange having hubby around 24x7. And then there are the kids. Can’t take them anywhere, can’t have friends over and so on. There are only so many jigsaws you can do, right?

It's hard and unsettling.

But God knows this. He loves us so deeply and understands all that’s going on inside and outside us. He knows our needs and so staying close to Him is really good for us in this season.

Ann wrote about abiding and I want to share a little about how one can do this.

1. Start in the morning. If you are able.

I’m a morning person and it’s easier for me to do this because of the season I’m in. Getting the house up and running is a very normal daily activity for moms. A particularly important one. But may I encourage you though to consider tuning your soul in the morning. Why do you think Jesus went off to meet with the Father every morning?

Our souls get out of whack overnight. I’m continually amazed how I can be on fire for the Lord when I put my head on the pillow, only to wake in the morning like He’s a complete stranger. And that’s why our soul’s need tuning. Think of it like a piano or guitar; before we play them we tune them. It doesn’t have to take long. It can just be a few minutes of prayer, inviting God into our day and checking in on our heart, asking ourself how we’re feeling and giving those feelings, good or not so good over to God. Even ask Him, why am I feeling like this Lord? And listen for an answer. It may not be immediate but sometime during the day you’ll probably discover why.

2. Repeat this process during the day.

As often as you are able. You might even give yourself a reminder using your phone.

What’s important is connecting how your feeling in your heart with God. He knows, He cares, He wants to help us. If you’re reading say Psalm 23: v1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” And you’re feeling tremendous lack of something: peace, hope, money, etc tell God that (He won’t be offended) and repeat the verse in your own words, “You tell me you’re my shepherd, Lord, I really need a shepherd now, help me see you as my shepherd today, taking care of my needs.” Gradually, God’s Word comes alive in our hearts as we discover that He is indeed a good good shepherd.

3. Ever so slowly it will become a habit.

A habit you’ll look forward to even when you’re at your crappiest because you’ve discovered how much God loves to be the one who tunes our hearts and souls.

It would be great for us to encourage each other with what we do to fix our eyes on Jesus in these strange and unsettling times.

Be blessed and keep fixing our eyes on the Lord. He’s a good, good Father.


To Cherish ...

Hi friends, Ann here! Cherish

The other day I noticed something new about marriage in scripture. It was like a big flashing light going off in my mind, so I thought I'd share. See what you think of this:

In the Bible there are a few key scriptures about marriage, as we know. But what I noticed this week is that in two of those scriptures (one from the Old Testament and one from the New), it says that your treatment of your spouse determines whether your prayers will be heard.

What a thought!

Here are the scriptures in question, and I've highlighted the parts about prayer:

1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV):

“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”

And

Malachi 2:12-15 (NKJV):

“May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, being awake and aware, yet who brings an offering to the Lord of Hosts.

And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” 

**

All of this got me thinking: I often have to guard my heart to stay good to my husband in relation to our faith difference. The spiritually mismatched nature of our marriage raises particular challenges that other couples might not have. I have to make sure I don't hold negative attitudes about certain things. I also have to guard my mouth to make sure when I talk about him my words are good words. The bar is high and I'm a total work-in-progress. 

The Old Testament passage in Malachi might have been addressing the letter of the law, perhaps physical infidelity; but we go beyond that in the spirit of the law, mirroring God's character and trying to be faithful in wider things, like our words. 

This thought takes me meandering back to a moment in 1999, when Bryce and I were getting married. In our heady twenties it was all fun fun fun. But, when we booked in a minister to officiate at our wedding he told us it was his code to give us marriage counselling and we agreed. There was not much that was sensible about the two of us so it was all we could do to stop ourselves losing it in giggles at various points -- Especially when the session turned to the topic of sex. It was all so serious -- Did we really have to be talking about this?! 

But, here's the golden question this minister asked us: “What does it mean to CHERISH someone? Your vows include the word cherish. What does that look like?” This man in his sixties knew what he was talking about. 

Fast-forward twenty years and here we are living with a faith difference that - if we aren't careful to cherish - could fracture us. Yikes, it's not exactly small stuff. What does it look like now for us to cherish each other?

Here's what my favorite old dictionary says about Cherish: "To protect and treat with affection: to nurture, nurse; to entertain in the mind." 

Honestly, I can think of many points where I have not been the shining star at cherishing Bryce. But what I’d like to do is treat him as my most treasured one. This is my heart, so I say 'Help me, God!' My marriage is entwined with the Kingdom. It’s part of that thing I want to seek first. And as I cherish him, then when I march in prayer around my 'Jericho' could it be that those walls of unbelief have a greater chance of falling? The above scriptures suggest perhaps so.

Do you have any thoughts on the concept of cherishing our spouse? We'll chat in the comments!


Soul Care

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Image courtesy of Yongkiet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello, my dear friends. Seems ages since we’ve ‘met’. I trust 2020 has started well for you all and your hearts are in good places.

My family’s had a tough start to the year. Besides the constant trauma on the TV each night as the bushfires raged through the land Down Under (we have been gratefully spared from having it too close) which cast fear and foreboding over people’s spirits, we and dear friends have had own personal traumas. Like our nation, we are recovering and walking, a little bruised and battered, into the future with hope in our hearts.

Maybe you’re in a similar place. Or maybe you’re just feeling a bit frazzled with all that’s going on: juggling being wife, mom, friend, daughter, employee or boss. It’s at these times when it’s important we take care of our souls.

The Easy Yoke

I’ve reflected, meditated and prayed over Matthew 11:28-30 repeatedly these past weeks. These words of Jesus have sustained me continually refilling me with hope and refreshment. Let’s have a look at them. If you don’t mind, I’m going to provide it in three versions because they each bring something extra. I’ll start with the more traditional one that most of us perhaps are most familiar with:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (ESV)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me.I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and restin me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.” (The Passion Translation)

Rest and refreshment? Anyone? Yes, we all shout out in unison. But let’s not confuse this to mean life will all of a sudden be fun and games. Our circumstances may still be tough and uncompromising, but the Lord enables us to rise above the angst and pain by filling us with His peace, hope and joy.

There is so much more I could share on these three verses, as it’s a wonderful statement of Jesus’s nature (meek, gentle and lowly of heart) and He suggests we learn to be similar by “joining our life” with His. But today I just wanted to encourage us practically in how we can ‘take his easy yoke’ upon ourselves.

Invite Jesus In

Whatever you’re doing: washing the dishes, preparing school lunches, attending a meeting, having coffee with a friend, etc, etc …  may I encourage you to add these two small steps:

1. Simply invite Jesus into the situation: ”Jesus, I invite you into this …” and he’s there. Remember, he’ll never leave you. All of a sudden you’ve become aware of His presence even though you may not feel anything different. Yes, nothing may change but there'l. be situations where you'll get little nudges from Him.

Remember the story of the two disciples who walked to Emmaus with resurrected Jesus sharing the best Bible study ever that was all about Him? They didn’t recognize Him, even though He was with them for seven miles. All they had to do was ask who He was? Like Moses and the burning bush, we need to always ‘turn’ towards Jesus. Be intentional about seeking His presence.

2. While you’re doing whatever you’re doing, turn your mind towards Him. Try it, you’ll find it takes some practice so you don’t suddenly ignore your friend who’s revealing their heart to you.

It’s something I’ve been doing for a while now and it’s wonderfully freeing. I’m constantly asking God, “where are you in this?”, “what’s this about, Lord?” “give me your heart in this moment”, etc etc. I think this is what ‘learning the unforced rhythms of grace’ might sort of look like.

What’s also important is to do practical things to help yourself. Remember following Jesus is a physical act as well as a spiritual (one of the heart) act. Eat healthily, get outside and experience some natural beauty of God's creation, exercise at least moderately, try to get extra sleep, and regularly have date night (just the two of you) with your partner. And involve Jesus in each of them. 

May I encourage you to spend some time these next few days simply meditating on the verses from Matthew above. Look at other versions and talk to Jesus about His easy yoke. Ask for it. Ask Him to show you how to learn His ways in order to be refreshed and rested. 

Here's to a year of refreshment and rest.

Blessings, my friends


Divine Moments

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Image courtesy of BlueSuedeBallroom.com

Hello, dear SUMite friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. I returned this morning from a whirlwind trip to San Antonio to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) annual conference. This is now my fourth conference and the reason I keep returning is that each time I go I experience a significant God-moment, writing and non-writing.

My first experience of this was at the 2012 event where I met our dear friend Dineen Miller who introduced me to SUM. I’ve written about our meeting a few times but in a nutshell prior to this conference I doubted I could ever have a ministry role outside my small little world as a result of being a SUM. Dineen both at the conference and, later through her contribution to SUM, clearly demonstrated otherwise and it dawned on me that I’d allowed myself to be deceived by the enemy.

Clearing Obstacles

I had felt the Lord’s nudge to attend this year’s event. It surprised me because it’s a fiction event and my energies this year have been focused around a non-fiction project. Surely, there was a disconnect. But the nudges kept on coming.

But there were some clear obstacles, the biggest being a financial one. We simply didn’t have the money for flights, conference and hotel accommodation. I kept saying to God, well, if you want me to go then you’ll need to clear this obstacle.

Six weeks before the event, mid-August, I received a completely unexpected financial gift from my parents. They were unaware of my desire to attend the conference. I was amazed. The Lord said to me, ‘well, that’s no longer an obstacle’.

I left chatting to Fiona about it for a week or so until she asked me what I’d like to do with the gift. And so I told her. She was kind enough to let me attend and when booking flights I was able to use frequent flyer points to get me across the Pacific meaning I didn't have to spend as much as first thought.

I’m continually amazed at God’s goodness.

Expectant Heart

I boarded my flight last Wednesday still unsure of why I was attending. I had set up some meetings but there was no guarantee they would provide anything of any great value. However, my heart was expectant both because of my three previous experiences but also because of how God had made it possible for me to attend.

It didn’t take long for things to start bubbling. The first worship session included the mention of a verse from Revelation that had been important to me during the first half of the year. Aha … is this it, Lord?

Even though I was able to share the significance of this verse to the two people who mentioned it and had a lovely moment with both, it soon became apparent it was simply a minor precursor to what the Lord had in store.

Feedback

The second day proceeded uneventfully until an afternoon appointment I had set up week’s prior. It was with a man whose counsel I admire and on discussing my non-fiction project with him, it wasn’t long before I realised this was the ‘gotcha moment’ and the reason for my attendance. The feedback wasn’t exactly what I would have liked to receive but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Two subsequent meetings with agents confirmed the same.

I felt pretty flat and a little discouraged by the time night came about. I thought my project was headed in the right direction but it was clear it wasn’t.

Worship clears the cobwebs of discouragement

The conference always has a late night worship session where writers can sit and write as they listen to worship. I didn’t want to write. I wanted to worship. I needed to because it’s something that always lifts my spirits. And the worship band at ACFW is one of the best I’ve sat under.

The enemy hates worship. I reckon it’s like a persistent jackhammer banging away at their heads. They have to flee – remember Paul and Silas in the jail set to be executed the next day? What did they do? They “were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25) What happened next? An earthquake happened, cell doors opened, chains fell off, freeing the two heroes.

Ephesians 5:18-19 is even more clear: “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” The Holy Spirit is the one who changes the atmosphere and being filled with the Spirit through singing and praying weakens the enemy’s power.

The discouragement I had soon lifted even though I was unsure of the next steps in my project. I woke the next morning feeling refreshed and energized. The morning’s worship was tremendous even more so as the Lord’s presence was thick as He touched a number of people in a very gentle healing way.

The Dance of Dependence

God never lays out the blueprint of the future, does He? It’s always one step at a time so we continue to trust in Him to lead us. We have to depend on Him. I was reminded of how a dad dances with a young daughter. She places her feet on his and as He steps, her feet automatically follow. It’s a wonderful picture for how we can follow His lead don’t you think?

When was a recent time you followed one of the Lord’s nudges out of obedience even though you were unsure of what was to occur? Be great for us to encourage each other in the comments below.

Blessings, my SUMite friends.


The Enemy Cannot Handle This!

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here!

Sunday, September 29th is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. We've talked about this Jewish holiday over the years. In fact, the first time I'd ever been made aware of it's significance was because of a blog post from either Lynn or Dineen. For those who are not familiar or are new to this holiday, a simple "Rosh Hashanah" search on this site will provide you with a wealth of information. Feel free to check out the archives!

My prayer for us today is that we will each take away something fresh and new. Holy Spirit, reveal to us the heartbeat of God. Amen!

Rosh Hashanah isn't actually a biblical holiday but a traditional Jewish holiday. The term "Rosh Hashanah" means "head of the year" and is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. This is a two-day celebration that proceeds Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

In the beginning of this month, the Lord really pressed upon me to watch Patty Tower's talk that was given at the SUMite Summit this last April. I decided to go back and watch it again. (I will provide a link below so you can revisit that as well. It is absolutely worth a re-watch!)

As I sat down to think about Rosh Hashanah and what I would include in this post, I went back to my notes from Patty's message. There is so much good in this message but I want to point out one theme:

  • Joshua 6 - God gives specific instructions about the destruction and taking of the city of Jericho. In verse 20 we see the result of following God's plan and not their own: "So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."
  • Patty called us to march around our house 7 times and shout, declare, pray and praise things into existence. It was in the great shout that the walls fell flat down.

Rosh Hashanah isn't in the Bible; however, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is. Let's take a look.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ” - Leviticus 23:23-25

The Hebrew word, Teruah, in Leviticus for blowing trumpets is the same word used in Joshua 6 where they shouted with a great shout. The first day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, is a day of blowing trumpets or shouting.

Notice what else it says in Leviticus about this day - you shall have a sabbath-rest. Yom Teruah happens to fall on a Sunday. The day we, as children of God, call our sabbath!

So, why is this important for us? If we are not Jewish, what is the point of celebrating this time of year?

We've already seen in our community some amazing things worth celebrating. Many professions of faith and baptisms with our spouses, children or others we love. Libby gave us a beautiful word about the SUMite community with her picture of the mountain. The SUMite Summit where some gathered in California being at the top and from that trickle, the waters of our faith continued to pool together to create a river at the bottom.

I truly believe something was activated in the heavenlies and we have set off a chain reaction. The enemy has been stirred to anger and we have seen much push back from illness, discord with our spouses and children, financial struggles, backsliding, strongholds etc.

However, I truly believe that God is calling His children deeper. I believe that He is stirring in us a hunger and thirst that can no longer be quenched by fear, pain or opposition tactics from the enemy.  I believe that NOW is the time for us to press in all the more into the God of Miracles. NOW is the time to storm the gates of Heaven for our spouses, children, our complete freedom and healing. I believe that NOW is the time for us to suit up and prepare for battle.

There is a shifting going on right now. As we are in this transition period, it is up to US if we are going to take God at His word - for our destinies, purposes, signs, miracles and wonders. We cannot afford to give up or give in. The future of generations to come hangs in the balance. It sounds intense but don't worry! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Patty's talk at the SUMite Summit: https://www.facebook.com/SpirituallyUnequalMarriage/videos/387269661859875/

There is so much more I could say but I've gone on a little long.

As we approach this Jewish New Year, what are the things you are coming to the Throne of Grace for? What do you hope to see in this new season? Shout

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! -- Psalm 47:1 (Shout here is the root word of teruah ::grin::)

We are going to shake the heavens and the earth with our shouts! In the comments, give a mighty shout to the Lord. Thank Him for the victory you've been praying and waiting for! Decree and declare that these prayers are answered in Jesus' mighty name! Now it is up to you to take Him at His word. Trust. Believe. Wait and see. God is so good. And He is worthy of the wait. Hugs!