107 posts categorized "Breakthrough Living"

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!

 

 


Like a Child ...

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Photo courtesy of photo stock and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello, dear SUMites. Ian from Down Under here. Spring has begun and the Lord is spoiling us with some delightfully beautiful days.

It was Father’s Day here on Sunday and Fiona had organized an afternoon tea with our two sons, their partners and grandchildren at our eldest son’s home. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we had a splendid relaxing time, six adults and two littlies. As you’d expect the latter received most of our attention and I rejoiced at strolling around the garden with our dear little Willow (8 months now) while two-year-old Moses entertained us with his ‘new words’ and racing around on his various tricycles.

There was an interesting moment when Daniel swung his son around on a makeshift swing (Dan being the swing). It was delightful seeing the joy on Moses’ face – he kinda went into a zone of contentment as he flew through the air for a few moments. There was no sign of fear as he trusted in his dad to swing him high and low then bring him down for a safe landing.

The Law of Three Strikes

We’ve talked about this ‘law’ a few times in the past. I woke yesterday to find two of my readings featured Matthew 18:1-3 – “’At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’ He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ’Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’”

Okay Lord, you’re trying to tell me something here. And so I reflected on that moment Dan swung his son around. Moses simply trusted. He couldn’t experience the fun moment without his dad and let himself go so he could simply experience the magic of it.

It’s a wonderful picture of that verse above, isn’t it? The Kingdom of Heaven is here (Mark 1:15) and God wants us to experience it all and all we have to do is believe and let go with child-like trust so we can enjoy the magic of it.

Ooo … it’s exciting, isn’t it.

Being a Parent

You might be asking: “where’s the third strike, Ian?”

Almost immediately after reading the Matthew verse (twice) I read Psalm 71:6 – “Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.”

God is our true parent (to quote Sara Hagerty). But it was the “leaned” that lingered as I read the verse a number of times. God wants us to lean on Him. We were never meant to live lives of independence, rather dependent ones. It’s a characteristic of being childlike – dependence. Trusting in your parent. Little Moses trusted Dan, his father, completely. And loved every moment of it.

Yes, there will be times we trust God and frankly don’t have much fun at all but I sense in that Psalm verse, we’re being told that God is trustworthy, even in birth. Hey, birth is pretty rugged for both mom and baby. But we can lean on God then and always.

 

What childlike quality to find most compelling when Jesus invites us to become like little children to experience His Kingdom? I’d love it if we could share in the comments below.


Rainbow Prayers

Hi everyone, Ann here!

We’ve recently been discussing the power of words here and on the Facebook group, and these conversations have brought back something that happened to me three years ago. I thought I would share the story. It was a time when God showed me two alternative scenarios in terms of how I use words: One scenario was awesome, the other sobering. With words being a theme, I'll have a go at telling it. Mum's Rainbow Prayers

I’ll start with the awesome, which is the best bit. It was a bright February day, and God showed me something that gave me warm fuzzies. He gave me a vision of rainbows coming out of a person’s mouth, accompanied by these words:

The prayers of a faithful person are like fountains of rainbows pouring over the one(s) for whom they pray. 

Wow. Rainbows represent God’s goodness, I loved hearing that. What’s even better is that sometime later I came across an article by an author who had had the same picture: Rainbows coming out of mouths, hitting situations with power. 

That Easter I also found the attached drawing, done by my little boy. There's a rainbow across our family and what looks like a fighter to the left with cape and sword. It reminded me of the rainbows and made me think, “This is how I care for my family -- Through prayer.”

However, it seemed God wanted to show me an alternative perspective, one more sobering. This ‘alternative view’ came on another bright morning but it was a less cheery vision. In this vision I saw some Christians who were doing wonderful work, and, consequently, a man in their life was giving them atheist banter. The Christians began to talk about this man. With good hearts, they weren’t talking that badly but, nonetheless, labels were used. As they spoke, a see-through dome formed around him, a barrier from which he could not escape but could see out of. Outside the barrier was a chocolate Easter egg in foil wrapping. Containment words  2

In the spirit of childlike faith, I’ve constructed a visual of this scenario in the attached picture. I couldn’t find an Easter egg so an evil foil-wrapped Easter Bunny will do. We’re God’s kids, and we’re learning, so a childlike depiction seemed fitting. The Easter bunny will be explained in a minute. 

What this vision told me is that words construct barriers and walls. In this vision, unintentional words were keeping the ‘atheist’ contained to the point that all he could see of the Easter message was chocolate and emptiness.

James 3 tell us that the tongue, though seemingly harmless, is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Yikes, that’s strong. Stronger still, though, is the fact God spoke the universe into existence. Made in God’s image but living in a world where light and dark collide, how powerful, exactly, are our words? Scripture shows examples of God encouraging his children to speak impact. Moses, for example, was told to speak to the rock so that water would come out; Ezekiel was told to speak life into dry bones. But, on the flip side, what power Jesus had to limit the fig tree with one apparently harmless sentence:

And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately, the fig tree withered away. Matthew 21:19 (NKJV)

As believers, are we saying about any fig tree, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again?” Who in our life do we refer to regularly, for example, as ‘atheist’? Are we even tearing down places, families, and churches with our words? I’ve been sitting with the thought asking myself what degree of ROAR, as a daughter of God, my tongue holds and whether I'm being wise enough.

Finally, what I like about these two visions is that the arch of the rainbow contrasts with the arch of the dome. It’s as if they are two contrasting choices a Christian has when speaking about another person. For us, as friends, I guess it's one more story for our war-chest.

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 (NKJV)

It'd be interesting to chat about what situations this might apply, keen to hear your thoughts?

In friendship,

Ann


The Power of Prayer

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Image courtesy of thepathtraveler at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’re a praying SUMite army, aren’t we, dear friends? Ian from freezing cold Sydney here. I trust those of you in the northern hemisphere are enjoying the warmer temperatures and having fun on summer vacations.

Prayer. It’s one of those little words that we’re all familiar with, it’s a practice we all do, some of us I expect more than others and for most, if not all of us, it can be hard work.

And it’s powerful. Really powerful. It changes hearts, saves people, heals people, restores people and most significantly it connects our hearts with God. The triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

“Through relationship, we carry and release the Kingdom onto the earth. This is what joy-filled prayer looks like.” – Beni Johnson

Prayer is Relational

It’s completely relational and usually reflects the state of our connection with God. If you’re finding your prayer life has become transactional (‘Help me, God!’ Thanks, God! etc) it probably reflects one’s relationship isn’t very tight, that there’s some distance between you. But if you find you’re always dialoguing with God throughout your day it more than likely reflects a strong relationship that is growing deeper.

Prayer is simply that … communicating with God. Most often it’s just us and God, other times, it’s with two or three of us and God, and other times it’s in bigger groups, like a Church Prayer meeting. 

It’s often hard because of its relational nature with someone invisible. But it becomes easier when our heart desires to be connected to God's heart. He wants to share His heart with us. 

Three Keys

There are lots of great stories in the Bible that provide us with examples of how to posture ourselves in our communications with God. Here are three thoughts that I’ve gleaned through my readings.

  1. Seek to know God’s Will

“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10.

We all know this verse from The Lord’s Prayer. God invites us into His Kingdom, there’s stuff going on that He wants us to participate in, so the more we seek after knowing His will the greater the intimacy we’ll develop with Him. Often we’re guilty of asking for our plans and our desires to be approved by God rather than coming to God and dialoguing with Him about what’s on His heart about a certain matter. Jesus provides the great example of this: at the Garden of Gethsemane the night He is betrayed He pleads with His Father to be freed of His responsibility (“if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me?”). But moments later Jesus determined that His Father’s way was best for him (“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”)

Praying God's Word is a great way of praying His Will. I start many mornings praying Psalm 23 over myself and over others the Lord puts upon my heart.

  1. Praise God Always

“pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of Godin Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (NKJV)

Did you catch those words I underlined: “for this is the will of God”. What is? To pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything. Start thanking God immediately, praising Him for the outcome of the prayer you’ve just prayed even though it hasn’t happened yet. Praise God before you receive the answer.

Remember when Paul and Silas were chained up in prison (Acts 16)? What did they do? They sang praises to God. What happened? An earthquake that shook the foundations, doors and chains keeping everyone captive, happened. Paul and Silas were freed.

  1. Continue to Stay Close to God and Follow His Ways

Like any relationship, our connection with God can experience peaks and valleys. Hey, we get distracted. Sometimes very easily. I know I do.

Daniel trusted God even when he had to spend a night in a den full of lions. God rescued Daniel and he continued to follow God’s ways rather than the King’s and we’re told he “prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6: 28)

The more time we spend with God, in reading His Word, and fellowshipping with other believers, we gain greater understanding of His heart, His mission and His ways. His desire is for us to join Him. But the world has it’s own ways and it’s natural for us to follow those ways. But we’re told in Isaiah 35 that there is a highway called the “Way of Holiness” (v8) and is available for all of us who follow God’s ways. There is neither lion nor ravenous beast to be found on this Way. And those who follow it will “enter Zion with singing and everlasting joy will crown our heads, gladness and joy will overtake us and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (v 10)

Follow His Way and we will pray prayers that reflect both God’s desires and ours.

 

May we encourage each other in our prayer walks by sharing a little in the comments about what works for us in staying connected with God throughout our busy day.

Blessings my friends.


Jehovah Perazim - The Lord Who Breaks Through

Hey SUM Family, Tiffany here!

I don't know about you but I have really been yearning for breakthrough! It gets me fired up thinking about the breakthrough needed in my life as well as others. I am really struggling to completely detach from my old self. I am not saying that I am not growing, maturing or bearing fruit. Please hear my heart. I am talking about the hard reality that the more I press into God, the more I realize I am in rough shape and need Jesus. Can anybody relate?

I recently came across this scripture that has been really stirring in my heart:

Dam breaking

 

So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The Lord did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging  flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). -- 2 Samuel 5:20

 

Some context: David is now king. He captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites and makes it his home. The Philistines find out this news and come to capture him. David goes into a stronghold and the Philistines spread out across the valley of Rephaim. It is really interesting to note that the valley of Rephaim means "the house of the giants."

David could have been afraid. Sure, he had a run in with them before (remember Goliath, their once great warrior?); however, this time they were after him!

I love the conversation that happens just one verse before:

So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.” (5:19)

Isn't there something so "magical" about the promises of God being fulfilled in front of your eyes? The New Living Translation sums up the child-like faith that I believe that David had - the Lord did it!

There are some things that I have been praying into for some time now - outside of salvation and surrender for Jason - full and forever breakthrough from the spirits of poverty and self-preservation in my life. There are many layers that have been broken but I still have a ways to go. It's been tough, especially with me as the toughest critic. These giants have taken camp in the valley of my heart and mind.

The Lord keeps impressing on my mind the idea of breakthrough and I praise Him for this recent revelation in this passage of scripture! Tiffany, I am your Daddy but I am also Jehovah Perazim. I am Your God who breaks through. Do you trust me? Do you believe it? Will you stand in faith - even when you can't see what is on the horizon?

I want to close with the song I heard for the first time today. It is so raw and honest. I can relate so well and I'm sure you can too.

Verse 1:

If I’m honest, I don’t know what to do
With this battle that I’m going through
And how to trust you.

Every part of me, wants to figure out my own plan
Wants to take things in my own two hands
God help me to understand

CHORUS

You are enough, You are enough for me, for me
Take my doubts, drown them in the sea
Cause you’re more than enough for me

VERSE 2

Every part of me, wants to figure out my own plan
Wants to take things in my own two hands
God help me to understand

BRIDGE

Even if I lost everything, you would still be enough for me.
Even if I lost everything, oh
Even if I lost everything, you would still be enough for me.
Even if I lost everything, oh

Can you feel the breakthrough coming or has your hope been lost? Admittedly sometimes I am teetering on the fence between the two. Sometimes life is tough. But GOD! He is so so good.

Let's pray:

Jehovah Perazim, You are our God who breaks through. You come forth against our enemies like a raging flood. There is nothing that can thwart the plans You have for us. When we are weary may we always remember that You go before us. You give us victory. When we are weary like Moses, bring others to surround us and hold us up. We can't do this alone. Thank You for this amazing community. We can all relate to the true struggle not against flesh and blood but against the forces of darkness. Thank You for always saying to us, like David, "I will certainly hand them over to you." We love you and praise you for the great big shout - You did it! We trust you. You are enough. In Jesus' name, amen.

See you in the comments! How can I intercede for you today?


Hold on Because Your LIFE Depends On It

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany here!

I shared with you at the conference that God has been speaking to me about cedars. Legacy pendantI saw a vision of a tree that was my family

legacy. The deep roots were the word of God so deeply hidden beneath the soil. I wanted to share with you something that I have been working on. These are words that He has been saying about me. (To keep it from getting too long I will only expound on a few)  Let's call today, "Motivation Monday." May these words be a motivation for you to believe what God says about you.

Cedars of Lebanon, Tiffany Carter, 5/31/19

Champion - (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Romans 8:37; Deuteronomy 20:4; Isaiah 6:8)

Elevator - one that lifts or raises someone/something up; exhorter - one who incites by argument, or advice; strongly urges; exultor - one who is extremely joyful; leaps for joy; rejoices); exalter - to elevate by praise; raise high; to enhance the activity of; intensify. (Deuteronomy 18:18; Proverbs 14:34; Psalm 68:3; Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 3:13)

Deeply rooted - existing for a long time and very difficult to change; firmly established; deeply implanted. (Psalm 1:3; Colossians 2:6-7; John 15:5; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Daniel 2:22; Isaiah 45:3)

Ancient - (Jeremiah 6:16; Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 1:4-5)

Righteousness - (Psalm 92:12-13; Proverbs 21:21; Psalm 112:6-8; Matthew 6:33; Hosea 10:12)

Stalwart Matriarch - woman that rules or dominates her family, group or state who is marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit. (Psalm 68:11; Proverbs 22:6; James 5:16; Psalm 102:18; Psalm 103:17; Proverbs 14:1)

Overarching Protector - (Matthew 6:10; Ezekiel 22:30; Proverbs 11:11; Jeremiah 29:7)

Freedom - (Psalm 18:48; Ezekiel 3:12; Psalm 119:45; Romans 6:14)

Legacy - something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past; carried over from an earlier time. (Psalm 145:4; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:14-15; Proverbs 13:22; Psalm 78:2-4; Exodus 20:5-6; Deuteronomy 6:5-7; 2 Timothy 2:2)

Emanate Love - (1 Peter 4:8; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Colossians 3:14; Ephesians 5:2; Matthew 22:37-39; Hebrews 10:24-25; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 20:6-7; 1 John 4:11; 1 John 3:16-18)

Bethel - house of God. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:1-2; Psalm 119:37; Romans 8:5-7)

Anointed - to smear or rub with oil or an oily substance; to apply oil to as part of a religious ceremony; to choose by or as if by divine election. (Isaiah 22:22; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20-21; 1 John 2:27; John 15:16; Psalm 45:7; Isaiah 44:3)

Non-conforming - (2 Corinthians 3:12; Romans 12:1-2; John 17:14-16; Revelation 12:11; Luke 6:27-36)

Ornamental - one who lends grace or beauty; adorned - to enliven. (1 Peter 3:3-4; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Proverbs 31:30; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Genesis 1:27; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Samuel 16:7)

New - (Hebrews 12:24; Galatians 3:26-27; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Isaiah 43:18-19; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17; 1 Peter 1:3; Mark 2:22).

Storms, temptations and trials will come and try to divert your eyes. The deceiver will come and try to cause you to doubt if not forget these life fulfilling promises.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lordyour God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

--Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Do whatever is necessary to remember and cling to these promises. I love making jewelry (see photo above) so this is a good tangible way for me to see His word on a regular basis.

How great of a Daddy we have that He would speak something so special and unique to you individually. Let's talk in the comments: What are some ways that you remember His promises in your own life? What helps you to keep your eyes on the prize set before you?

 


Milestone Made Possible Because Of You

Hey SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

I have some wonderful news to share!

Today I graduated year one of ministry school. This was the first half of a two year program that will lead to ordination.

I was very surprised to receive "The Heart of David Award" along with my certificate of completion. What an honor and joy!

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The words "thank you" are not enough to express the gratitude I have for you,  my beloved family without walls. Your love, encouragement, and support  has tremendously helped carry me to this beautiful moment. Thank you to everyone who has given time, prayer, finances, Scripture and hugs. My accomplishment is your accomplishment.

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. -- 2 Thessalonians 1:11

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. -- Ecclesiastes 4:12

You all have helped me accomplish my dreams. In the comments, share something that God has laid upon your heart to accomplish. I want to pray over you and bless you today.


Going Deeper ...

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Photo courtesy of Pexels.com
 

Hello, dear friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. It seems ages since I’ve written.  I trust the New Year has started well for you and you’re excited for what 2019 holds for you and your family.

Recently, I was reading something written by Will Graham, the grandson of the late Billy Graham, where he sought some counsel from his famous granddad on navigating the challenges of a ministry that required a lot of travel around the globe.

He was expecting some advice on how to run meetings better or how better to emphasize a point but instead received this simple message, “Pray, pray, pray” and “study, study, study.” It made good sense as this was what Will had seen his granddad doing most times he visited, praying and studying.

Abiding and Bearing Fruit

“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless.” John 15:5 (TPT)

We desire to make an impact, don’t we? Even in the smallest way. Often we apply ourselves to various efforts and activities in order to make an impact. But what’s clear from the impact Billy Graham had was that he knew what was required to produce it – ‘live in union’ with God.

What I find fascinating about this verse is that Jesus tells us the answer to doing life well. And the answer is very straightforward: ‘live in union’ with God.

Living in Union

You’d think we’d all be doing this, right? It sounds pretty straightforward. Okay I’ll have my time with the Lord in the morning and everything will be sweet. Right? Well, that lasted 30 minutes (add you own number here), now what do we do for the next 23.5 hours of the day? BTW, how long do we need to spend with God to be ‘living in union’ with Him?

I’m no expert at any of this and I’m also very conscious of becoming overly religious about it all but what I sense matters is it all starts with the state of our hearts. As I think I’ve mentioned before, we gotta want Him. In order to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, body and soul we gotta want to do it.

Listen to David’s heartbeat:

“Here’s the one thing I crave from God,
    the one thing I seek above all else:
    I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house,
    finding the sweet loveliness of his face,
    filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace.
    I want to live my life so close to him
    that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.” Psalm 27:4 (TPT)

When I read this verse last week I was challenged by David’s ‘one thing.’ What’s my ‘one thing’? This is a man after God’s own heart as David is described. It’s very clear what’s his ‘one thing’. But he stuffed up. He got fearful and anxious many times but he kept coming back to the North Star of his heart: his desire for God.

Now back to Granddad Graham. I expect the North Star of his heart was similar to David’s and he kept fuelling his desire by always praying and studying the Word. The reason we need to do both is that the Word is a key way in which the Lord speaks to us (not the only way). We can be continually reminded of God’s greatness and goodness, His immense love for us through studying the Word. In so doing it helps build up our faith and so prayer becomes easier.

(One thing a lot of us forget is the best way to enhance one’s prayer life is by building up one’s faith. The greater our passion for the Lord, the stronger the desire we have to spend time with Him.)

I struggle with being intentional about studying the Word. It’s very easy to quickly read a passage or a few verses and then move on. But I find the more time I set aside meditating and reflecting on some verses the greater my desire for prayer and reading even more of the Word becomes. As I mentioned before, one of the things I’ve done these past few years is to continuously read the Psalms (because I want what David has!) I love how they’re full of emotion: joy, anger, anxiety, fear, love and passion.

May I encourage you this year to set the North Star of your heart to more of God, not more from God, but more of Him. Dive into the Word. Try different methods, mix up which books of the Bible you read, do it with friends, journal some notes each day on what you discovered, use a commentary, listen to it in your car, etc etc.

Share in the comments something about how you study the Word as it's likely to give all of us some different ideas.

Would you mind if I finished with this blessing from the book of Numbers: (pray it over yourself :))

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” ’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV)


You Are Making New Wine

Hey there SUM family, Tiffany here!

We are on the verge of a major breakthrough. I believe that this is both  individual and corporate for our SUM community and our families. Already we have seen a few wondrous accounts of spouses getting baptized into the faith! Hallelujah! Strongholds are breaking in our lives as well as our spouses. We are seeing addictions begin to cease. Affections returning in marriages. What a great time to be alive!

I wanted to share something that God is stirring in my heart. During the fast and even recently, I am hearing the phrase "new wine." I am barely scratching the surface of where Holy Spirit is trying to take me but I wanted to share my heart because I feel it is important. When breakthrough is upon us, there is always a push back from the forces of darkness. Freedom, identity, purpose, birthright. These are all things that scare the enemy. Satan and his minions know that when we step into the calling and purpose that God has ordained for us and we walk in our authority they are in big trouble! Is it any wonder that there are flair ups and illness, death and financial strain?

Back to new wine. Let's take a look at what Jesus had to say:

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of
the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:14-17)

Side note: it is interesting that Holy Spirit brought me to this scripture during the community fast. John's disciples originally asked Jesus a question about fasting.

When thinking about the process of making wine in ancient Israel it always begins with a pressing and crushing of the grapes. Grapes did not last very long when harvested in the heat New wine flagand climate of the season. The farmers would instantly turn the grapes into wine and store them in the wineskins to preserve them for longer periods of time. It was actually the process of crushing the grapes that started the fermentation process. During fermentation, carbon dioxide is released so new wineskins were needed for their elasticity to allow for expansion as the gas was released.

In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came and filled the apostles in the Upper Room during Pentacost. A crowd gathered as they heard a noise and realized that they could understand men speaking in their own native tongues. The people in the crowd were amazed and perplexed. There were also some who accused the apostles of being drunk on "new wine (NKJV)." Paul urges in Ephesians 5:18 to not be drunk on wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit.

What does this have to do with what Jesus said in Matthew 9? For us as believers today, being filled with the Holy Spirit we need to realize that He is the one who leads us into all truth - He speaks what He hears from the Father through Jesus (John 16:13). He is the new wine inside of us. We are the wineskin (vessel). Just like the fermentation process as carbon dioxide is released in the wine making process, Holy Spirit releases things in us. He is always releasing, always leading. His job is to stir in us a call to become more like Jesus. He gives us guidance and direction. As the expansion happens to a wineskin, so does the pressure in our lives.

Being the wineskin, we are the ones who decide whether or not we will allow for this movement of Holy Spirit. Will we choose to listen? Will we be flexible as He calls us into the uncomfortable? We will refuse to allow the fermentation (preservation) process?

I am being drawn into a new level of worship. One that is completely uncomfortable and will really challenge me to worship the Lord with my WHOLE body. Take a look at the video below. I would love to explain my hearts desire further, maybe for another time. This is my inspiration into the new and exciting journey of flagging.

Let's talk in the comments. I would love to hear: What are some things that Holy Spirit is challenging you to do? What areas are you being drawn into the uncomfortable - for your preservation and God's glory? 


A Table Set For Victory

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here.

I pray that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love gathering with family, eating fantastic food and reflecting  on all of the favor, mercy, and goodness of Daddy that has happened for the year.

As I was thinking last week about what Holy Spirit wanted me to share, I fingerprinted a man with a business logo on his sweatshirt that said "Stillwater." This prompted me to look up "still water" in the Bible. The main passage that came to mind was in Psalm 23:

 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

TABLE BEFORE ENEMIES*Photo credit: Loving Grace Ministries

Reading this familiar passage again I was shocked to see verse 5, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..." I had completely forgotten that this verse was in this Psalm.

That is when Holy Spirit brought to my mind the song Surrounded (Fight My Battles) by Elyssa Smith from UPPERROOM. Forgive me if I've shared this song before. I love it so much. My favorite verses in this song say, "my weapons are praise and thanksgiving, this is how I fight my battles"

I have been seeing Psalm 23 all over the place since I first saw this man's sweatshirt. I know that of the Psalms, this one is so common and well known even in the secular world; however, this particular passage has not been on my radar for quite some time. Each and every time I am seeing a reference to Psalm 23 there is a different verse that is being highlighted. I think I need to dwell here for a while! I was inspired so much so that I committed this passage to memory. This is a first for me to memorize an entire passage. Woot!

I think with all of the apparent darkness and chaos going on in our community (illness, death, financial struggle, marriage breakdown, depression, chronic pain, etc) and in the world today I want us to meditate on this phrase, "I am beginning to see the darkness around me is just the shadow of Your wings." *Note: this is not my phrase, this gets me every time I listen to this song...SO SO GOOD.*

God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding. (Psalm 47)

Please know that our Daddy is surrounding you with His love, presence, favor, mercy, and grace. I know we all know this but may we truly rejoice and sing praises with understanding! Understand your are highly favored. Understand you are loved. Understand you are cherished. Understand in your weakness He is strong. Understand that even in the toughest time of your life He is in control. Understand you are seated with Christ Jesus. Understand you have authority. Understand you are the victor. Understand it. Is. Finished!

Let us lift our voices in one accord today:

I don't know about you the Lord uses songs to get me through the darkest days. Share in the comments some songs that see you through tough times. Your suggestions could be healing salve and oil of joy to another. I love you SUM family.


Deliverance After YEARS Of Torment! Hallelujah!

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

The last couple of months I have been sharing a bit about what I have learned from reading a book called From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris. I was assigned to read this book in class and I am so glad that I read it! This book has been truly amazing. To read the previous two posts I've written in this "mini-series" click on the links below.

This Is Just The Pits!

Do You Want Evidence Or The Truth?

In September I began to take steps to transition into a new church. As you read this, I have now been at this new church for 3 weeks. Each and every week has been so powerful and effective. Today I want to share with you a recent experience unlike anything I've ever had. It happened a little over a week ago on October 14, 2018. The following is what I posted the next day on Facebook (sharing here as well since a lot of you may not have Facebook or seen it because we aren't "friends"):

 Worship at Hub is amazing. God is there. Holy Spirit presence is thick and tangible. We were singing a song I had never heard before. The lyrics were powerful and the words that floored me at the time were talking about laying my whole life down before Jesus our Savior. I was already worshipping on my knees but I couldn't help but crouch face down before God. I felt so heavy and overloaded. I was just crying and crying before God. My words spoken in tears and sobs. All of a sudden it was like God said, "get up." Not in an angry way but an empowering way...if that makes sense. I sat up and it was like I saw myself in the place of the woman caught in adultry that was brought before Jesus. The crowd, stones in hand set to stone her. Jesus calmly and matter of factly said, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." Slowly, one by one the people left. Once everyone was gone, I pictured Jesus Freedom foreverlift up my chin so I would look him in the eyes. Crouched on the ground seeing His eyes intent on mine. Looking into my soul. Just like He did with the woman that day, He said, "who condemns you?" Looking around I reply, "No one Sir." In that instant...I felt all the weight of condemnation lifted. It was like I had an hour long deep tissue massage. Every fiber of my  being, relaxed and stress free. I realized later after worship and after the service...reflecting on what happened in that moment. Those people standing and surrounding me so quick to condemn and judge...were different versions of ME. How often I have shot myself down, I have stoned myself for a mis-spoken word, a harsh tone, a forgotten task, a wrong thought...I have been stoning myself for years and as God clearly told me to get up - it was giving me my life back. It was His GRACE UPON GRACE. His mercy. His true love. He doesn't keep record of wrongs...and neither should I. NO LONGER DO I. This morning, as life went on as usual...I reacted in ways I am tyring to change (short with my daughter when she cries about everything she wears - meltown after meltdown this morning and my shortness with her, attitude from tired children, etc) but the major difference was this. No one condemns me...not even myself. I made a mistake, asked for forgivenenss and moved on. The first instance my flesh tried to condemn me I heard the words "no one Sir." Loud and clear and it reminded me of the freedom that I was given. Once and for all. I will never go back. Once that transaction was finished Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." Can you image the freedom, the joy, the apreciation she felt with that moment? I can...because I do.

 You may have to click on the picture to better see but I found the moment in worship where this exchange happened. Today I stand free from years of mental torment. As I think about this moment it still brings tears to my eyes because every moment since then has been a blessing. Please know that it doesn't mean that I am perfect or care free. I still have some struggles that God is working on in me. Holy Spirit is still pruning and I've got a lot of work to do. However, I am no longer hopeless.

I've gone a little long this time so let me wrap up with this:

I have been blessed to be a blessing. So today, I bless you with joy unspeakable; freedom from weight (even YEARS worth) of torment - mental, emotional, spiritual, physical; victory beyond belief; confidence in your Daddy; hope to weather the storm; faith, life, salvation for your spouse and loved ones; light in the darkness; advancement in the Kingdom where you feel backslidden; fire shut up in your bones; fight and fierceness; and love beyond compare.

Below is the song that brought me to the feet of Jesus and ushered me into freedom.

See you in the comments. I would love to pray over you for your own deliverance.


Do You Want The Evidence Or The Truth?

Hey SUM Family,

Tiffany here:

ev·i·dence -  

a : an outward sign : indication

b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter
(Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

Last post (This Is Just The Pits!) we began to take a look at the life of Joseph. We discovered that there are ten tests we must face in order to fulfill our God-given purpose (I highly suggest you read From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris for more on this topic). I want us to really dive into the deep end of the pool as we learn more about the pit test.

First, let's continue on in the story of Joseph. At this point he was ambushed by his brothers and thrown into the pit. Changing scenes, we see what happens with his family next:

So [Joseph's brothers] took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, "We  have found this. Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" And he recognized it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces" (Genesis 37:31-33).

F.E.A.RJoseph's brothers did not flat out lie and say that Joseph was killed. Jacob came to that conclusion because of their leading question, "Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" This is what we would call fabricated (false) evidence.   Remember evidence is an indication or something that furnishes proof. This evidence in Jacob's mind was proof that his favorite son was dead - to him it was the truth.

For over 20 years, imagine Jacob as he says in v. 35, "For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning." Imagine a father so heartbroken that he was not able to be consoled. I don't know for certain but I can imagine countless nights of crying himself to sleep, restlessness, no appetite, deep depression...unable to move on. Not only that but his other sons could have easily freed him from all of it...over 20 years of seeing and living with their father. What callous and prideful hearts!

What about you? What fabricated evidence has been stacked up against you? Your marriage? Your parenting? Your identity in Christ? What lies of the pit have kept you trapped for far too long? 

We live in a sin-hardened world, and we will be tempted by fabricated evidence just as Jacob was. And like Jacob, we will suffer unnecessary grief if we allow the lies of the pit to determine what we believe.

This is very important. If you want to get out of the pit, you must learn to discern the lies of the enemy. Because when you are in the pit, you are especially vulnerable. When you are in the pit, circumstances usually don't look very favorable - and that is exactly when Satan will manipulate those circumstances in order  to deceive you. He will hold up those circumstances before you as evidence that you should believe him rather than have faith in God. But fabricated evidence is not the truth. Joseph's brothers held up a bloody coat as evidence, and that evidence looked pretty convincing. But it was fabricated evidence. It was not the truth. If you want to overcome the lies of the pit, you must learn to focus on what God has said. When you are in the pit, you must remember that nothing is too hard for God, no matter what evidence the enemy might produce...

Yet even worse than his fabricated evidence is Satan's biggest lie: "You've messed up too badly. It's too late for you. You've messed up too badly to ever fulfill God's destiny for your life." Do you realize that the Bible is a book entirely about restoration? The Bible is filled with stories of people who messed up so badly that it seemed even God couldn't do anything about it - and yet He restored every one of them. He wants you to know that nothing is impossible for Him. As long as you have breath, it is never too late to call out to God. It doesn't matter what pit you are in. If you call out to God, He can fix it. And that is the real purpose of the pit. (pp. 38-39, From Dream to Destiny, Robert Morris)

Next time I want to finish up with the hope we have - the light at the end of the tunnel - in times of experiencing the pit test. But for now, let's meet in the comments. Let me speak truth into you and pray with you as we debunk the lies of the pit. Lean into this reality that fabricated evidence, no matter how convincing or real it appears, is NOT the truth. I promise you that this assurance will transform your life and catapult you out of the pit.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

-- Colossians 2:13-15 (NLT)


Five Smooth Stones

Hi everyone  Somewhere over the rainbow  SUM

As I write, it’s Thursday morning here in New Zealand, and I'm a hungry girl. Each fast I do more than I did before; and yet, this fast, like my others before, has been an imperfect one.

Yesterday, for example, I went to work hungry. By 1pm it was awful. I left my office where I was putting on a cheerful front, shut myself in the toilet cubicle and said to Jesus, “HOW did you do this for 40 days?” It made me realize I hadn’t ever considered Jesus’s 40 days of no food or water.

At 2pm, I freaked, I had a class to teach: “What if I faint in front of the class?” That was it. Seizing control of my situation, I reached for my bag, pulled out a small wrapped bar called ‘one square meal’, and gobbled it up. My hunger disappeared and I missed it instantly – “Oh no, come back!!”

Fasting. What does it do?  I still don’t understand it, but this time round I’m feeling it crash me to my knees – if not physically, in my heart. In my fasting state, there are no first-world problems. I’m hungry, that’s it. I bow my knee to the Father.

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Ephesians 3:14, NKJV.

Fasting has got me thinking about the five smooth stones that God gave David to fight with. David knelt in obedience, gathered the stones, and stood up. Then he simply popped a stone into his sling, and - plop! - down went Goliath. Obviously, there were emotions around it, but the fact was he held these precious little stones in his hot hand. They were like secret treasure.  Five smooth stones

These five smooth stones were gentle weapons: small, rounded, easy to pick up, simple to hold. They make me think of fasting, rest, delight, dancing, and worshipping; things that represent a lifestyle of intimacy. Little lightweight stones.

"Come to Me, all you 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." Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV.

On Tuesday I woke with a picture of myself and my kids sinking colored pool balls by connecting with the white ball. Plop, plop, plop, went the balls. It made me think, “For victory, you have to get your connection with the white right.”  Similarly, to sink the giants, we seek first – above all else -- our connection with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That's what I'll teach my kids.

This SUM community is a place I have been learning how to do that. The example of all of you has made me grow. For that I’m enormously grateful.

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”

Ephesians 3:14-21, The Message

Tomorrow I’d love to take communion with you, the SUMites, who I find to be my happy place. So, if you would, come to the blog with bread and wine and we'll eat the best possible meal together.

Love to you all.

Ann


His Light Shines on a Fasting Heart

Hi SUM family  Somewhere over the rainbow  SUM

Welcome to day one of our fast, and happy new year! From what I’m hearing, we’re not the only ones who are being led to fast right now. Quite separately, even my home church is fasting and I know other Christians are too. We’re led by the same Spirit. 

This is my eighth fast with the SUM community, and every time it has been extraordinary. From these shared adventures, I now know that fasting does something very special. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my first ever fasting story. It’s a fun story, but it illustrates the fact that fasting shifts things.

It was just before I found the SUM community. I’d noticed in scripture that fasting makes the impossible possible, and so I quietly planned to try it. The opportunity finally came when my husband and boys planned a trip away, leaving me home alone. I marked it, like D-Day, on my calendar.

D-day came. I began with a coffee and my journal, and wrote down some things to talk to God about. For the rest of the day I sat on my couch and chatted to God. So far, so good.

But then -- oh the drama – things took a turn for the worse: Suddenly, my stomach twisted and lurched and I began to feel like I was going to be sick. Now this, to me, was absolute horror (I have not vomited for 19 years and don't plan to again!) I staggered to the kitchen with no small amount of distress, desperately shoved crackers down my throat, scraped myself to bed and spent the rest of the day in the fetal position, recovering. The fast, it seemed, had been an epic fail. Or had it?

Thankfully, it has never been anywhere like this bad again; it seems to get easier each time. But anyway, on with the story.

My evening in the fetal position subsided into sleep, and soon I was much better and sleeping like a baby. It was then – there in the dark – that something unusual happened: Tumbling words (in English) began pouring out of my mouth like a bubbling fountain, waking me up! I was praying, but it was certainly not my own doing. One thing that struck me was how articulate and well put together these words were.

I was left stunned.

It’s interesting how God knows just how to speak to our souls at a particular point in our lives. For me, this experience was strange, beautiful, and vividly showed me the Spirit interceding on my behalf (Romans 8:26-27). I’d been struggling to believe in God till then, but after that event I struggled much less. I kept thinking, “I cannot be atheist after what I experienced that night.”

It was the breakthrough I needed. It made me go “God is real. God really is real. Yikes, God is really, really real!!!!” In this way, my foot was lifted onto the next rung of the faith ladder, and I was able to keep on climbing.

Today, as I think about the power of fasting, I have one more lovely thing to share: This morning, as I woke, I had a little picture in my head. It was of a sharp, focused beam of light shining carefully onto a target. It made me wonder whether God is saying that when we fast, we open our heart to the light that He wants to direct onto a specific area -- and that light will surely come. In the case of my fun fasting story, that light was a healing experience that helped me overcome atheism. This time round, it’ll be something different. In any case, I will ask Him to bring His light, as He sees fit, to whatever places of my heart need it right now.

SUMites, lovely chatting today, and I’ll see you again tomorrow. In the meantime, what is your favorite fasting story?  And how has your first day gone? I look forward to hearing in the comments. 

“.. For assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:20-21, NKJV


Abiding leads to Transformation

6a00d83451ee9f69e2022ad3a65532200b-200piHello, Ian here once again.  As you probably have noticed in many of my posts in the last few years I’ve sought to desire more of God, to experience that oneness with the Father that Jesus prays for us about in John 17.  Hey, and isn’t it fabulous that Jesus, Himself, actively helps us in the process? Everyday. As He continually intercedes in prayer for us. This desire for more brought me, firstly, to writing a new non-fiction book, and then when I discovered I didn’t have sufficient material, secondly, to take up study again in participating in a Spiritual Formation course.  To date I marvel at what I’m both learning and experiencing.

The Heart

It’s a journey of the heart as the prophet Jeremiah declared: “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. (Jeremiah 24:7) I think for many years I treated it more as an exercise of accumulating knowledge and, being a passionate ‘Learner’[1], it was very easy for me to simply learn, fill many journals and my mind with lots of knowledge but didn’t feel any closer to experiencing an intimacy with the Lord. Also, being a routine-oriented person I had explored a myriad of ‘successful-people’ daily habits to try on to see if there was a fit. Once again, I kept hitting roadblocks. They helped me produce output but not the fruit I desired as expressed by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV). It’s clear now that I was confusing measuring goals and tasks with the ways of the heart. I like how Jenn Giles Kemper describes adopting “a rule of life, on the other hand, helps you become.”[2]

The vine analogy is a powerful one about becoming. In John 15, we read Jesus’ words: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (v 4-5 ESV) Heidi Baker sums up this essence of abiding: “Time spent abiding is time spent being equipped … Abiding in the vine means we are ‘plugged in’ to the resources of heaven.”[3]Abiding requires spiritual disciplines of solitude, silence, prayer and meditation. These are the disciplines of contemplation. As we fix our eyes on God in contemplation we are equipped and guided for bearing fruit. The transformational inside-out work of these disciplines serves to enable us to be secure in obeying the Word of the Lord. Foster describes this inside-out process well: “When the branch is truly integrated into the vine – united with the vine and receiving its life from the vine – then good spiritual fruit is a natural consequence. Action follows essence.”[4] This is the life Jesus modeled for us, as did the first disciples and many of the Christian greats such as Martin Luther, who had so much business to attend to he could not get on “without spending three hours daily in prayer.”

Transforming vs Conforming

Since I can remember, perhaps my favourite verses has been the classic opening two verses of Romans 12:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformedby the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

As a teenager, I wanted not to conform to the patterns of the world. I didn’t want to chase what the world did. I figured I was a bit of a misfit anyway and these verses helped show me that Jesus had a different plan for us when we asked for Him to be Lord of our life. But it didn’t take me long to get sucked into conforming.

It was this essence I lacked. I had spent too many years being religious making sure I had my daily quiet time, read more books than I can remember on how to develop a closer relationship with God and felt guilty that I wasn’t committing to enough service in my church. Action follows essence. I appreciate that now. “The [Spiritual] Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.”[5] Transformation is a process, like any significant change activity. And it requires a degree of suffering just like adopting any new habit does. In fact, building bodily muscle requires the breaking of muscle fibres and interestingly, most of the restoring of the muscle is done when resting the muscle after a work out. It’s a good analogy for the spiritual transformation process as well: the disciplines of contemplation are when our spiritual muscles are restored and/or developed to enable us to step out into the action of performing good works.

I so love that image of Mary of Bethany simply sitting at Jesus feet in Luke 10. She simply sat at the Lord’s feet listening to Jesus. Jesus tells busy Martha that “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be take away from her.” (v42)

It is in abiding with Jesus we get to not just hear His voice, but His heartbeat. And the more we do it, the more His essence works its way into our hearts, transforming us from the inside out.

In all your busyness this week, please stop to spend some time sitting at Jesus’ feet. To be restored, to be replenished, to be cherished.

Be blessed my friends.

Notes:

1One of 34 ‘strengths’ identified in the Clifton StrengthsFinder® produced by The Gallup Organization, Washington, D.C. Jenn Giles Kemper, ‘Rule of Life’, Sacred Ordinary Days, undated, last accessed 18 August 2018, https://sacredordinarydays.com/pages/rule-of-life 3Rolland and Heidi Baker, Reckless Devotion: 365 Days of Inspiration, (Maidstone: River Publishing & Media Ltd, 2014) Day 134 4Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2017), 86 5Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2008), 7

 


This Is Just The Pits!

Josephs-Coat-of-Many-Colours Josephs-Coat-of-Many-ColoursHello Sum family!

Tiffany here:

It is very easy to see the heaviness and struggle going on in the world. Just in our own community there is a weight of illness, backsliding (in ourselves or our spouses), addictions, anger, depression, anxiety, spiritual attacks to our identity, self-worth, motivation, and will to keep going in the faith. There is bitterness and envy, there is confusion and doubt - toward others and even God Himself. It's like we have lost sight of who we REALLY are (we'll talk more about this later).

Before I continue, I want to preface that I don't believe that our SUM community is in this bad of shape. I don't believe that we are all struggling at all times. I do however, see a trend of these things happening in the ranks...and it seems to be increasing. I myself have been struggling a lot lately. I feel as though I have opened the door to anger and fits of rage again and it is running rampant and tearing apart my family as I unleash it's fury over my husband and children. I know I am not a monster and YET...that is what the evidence has been showing me lately (tune in next time to learn more about evidence - it's life changing!).

This is where the grace of God comes in. Where the Spirit of the Lord is - there is what? FREEDOM!

In these next couple of posts, I want to share some things that I have been learning recently in God's classroom and I pray that as we work through these things together, we will gain ground in our faith and also in victory over struggles.

I have been reading From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris (you can find the book here). In this book he walks us through the life of Joseph and explains that there are ten different tests that we must go through in order to fulfill the purposes that God has on your life. Reading this book has been so insightful. I have been able to look at the life of Joseph in such a different way. The test I want to touch on is the Pit Test (chapter 2). Let's check in on Joseph:

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan. Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, "Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ' Some wild beast has devoured him.' We shall see what will become of his dreams!" But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, "Let us not kill him." And Reuben said to them, "Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him" - that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father. So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it (Gen. 37:17-24).

 As we just saw, his brothers conspired to kill him. In verses 4 and 8 of Genesis 37 we find out that his brothers all hate Joseph because he was Jacob's favorite. It made matters worse when Joseph so shamelessly shared the dreams that he had of being bowed down to by his brothers and his parents. Morris goes into more detail throughout the previous chapter (chapter 1) of his book but essentially Joseph's pride is what mainly caused this rift in his family. Out of his pride he helped fuel the events that led him to this pit moment.

So what about us? What is the pit test? How do we end up in the pit?

Like it or not, all of us will go through some times when we feel as if things are just the pits. We may not be sure just how we got into that pit - and even less sure as to how to get ourselves out. But one thing is certain - we won't move ahead into our destiny unless we get out of that pit...Jesus knew we would have trouble because He know we would be living in a world contaminated by the effects of sin. As a consequence of sin, this world is full of  trouble - and pits are just one form of it. Pits are simply a by-product of a fallen world. (From Dream to Destiny, p.29, 31)

Next time I want to talk about the mind blowing truth I gleaned from this book about our time in the pit and how Satan schemes to keep us there. Until then, I can't wait to see you in the comments. What kind of pit are you in right now? How can we pray for you as a family to raise you up out of it?

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinth. 15:57

 


The Orphan Spirit and Identity Crisis

Hey there SUM family, Tiffany here! 

In the first post on this new writing journey for the SUM community I talked about the feeling of being a throw-away kid. This operated in my life in many ways. I was plagued by thoughts such as -

I will never be able to do enough.  Pete Scazzero

I am not good enough.

I am just trying to get your attention.

I cannot measure up to your standards.

What more do you want/expect from me?

I can't handle these demands.

I don't deserve it / you.

I honestly haven't realized – until last week during a healing prayer session with Lynn - that these thoughts that have plagued me for years are not only from the enemy but HAVE A NAME. The Orphan Spirit operates in such feelings as abandonment, loneliness, alienation, and rejection. Ouch! Looking back on my life, this has been the major theme! I am so used to a life like this that it almost seems unnatural to operate in freedom from this. (Isn't that truly the enemy's tactic..to turn things upside down and make it seem like “normal?”) The more I look into this topic, the freer I feel. It is almost as if the scales are falling from my eyes! I am not an expert by any means but I intend on digging deeper...I see this as a chapter in Vicarious to Victorious as the Lord leads me to write this book.

Or · phan: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents; one deprived of some protection or advantage.

I have to say that this journey of freedom has been hard. I have realized that I have to truly fight for victory and the more I gain momentum, the more I have to be on guard. I don't say this to scare anyone. The journey is long but the triumph is so much stronger than anything I have to endure. I read Romans 8 this morning in my quiet time. This is a familiar passage to me and probably for many of you. What really jumped out to me was verse 18,

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Wow, just wow. Today this familiar verse hit me like a ton of bricks. The sufferings that I am presently dealing with – the baggage and destructive mess left by the Orphan Spirit – has taken a toll on my life. My parenting. My marriage. My friendships. Everything!

I have been living with an identity crisis YEARS after trauma from father figures. The Orphan Spirit has left me deprived of protection and advantage. My identity for the longest time has been in productivity, performance, approval. These things have always been fleeting. Even if it seemed as though I was getting what I thought I wanted, said approval, I still couldn't accept it. If I could describe the labels that I allowed the Orphan Spirit to place on my life they would include such things as: worthless, unwanted, unworthy, unloved, ineffective, desperate, needy, clingy, an object not a person.

BUT God!

He has given me a new identity!

Let's look at Galatians 4:4-7:

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

This does not sound like the labels I had placed upon myself at all! Thank you God, You give us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57)!

In digging deeper into God's word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to renew my mind and transform me (Romans 12:1-2) I am seeing more and more that I have the ability to see my TRUE identity. My identity isn't really in crisis at all. In fact God is using the trauma of my past to help me look forward with more confidence than before. I am not who I once was. Instead of those old labels I can rest assured that my identity looks more like: victory, confidence, powerful, effective, fierce, redeemed, helpful, compassionate, empathetic, gracious, artistic and creative, unique, valuable.

Joseph Mattera wrote for Charisma News, “The only way to break this orphan spirit is for people to be filled with a sense of the Father's love for them in Christ, which then enables them to become mature sons who serve God out of knowledge of His undeserved grace instead of trying to earn the Father's love through performance.” (You can read through the entire article by clicking HERE)

I want to close this with a chance to meditate on the newer song from Passion feat. Kristian Stanfill and Melodie Malone – God You're So Good.

As you listen focus on these words:

I am blessed

I am called

I am healed

I am whole

I am saved in Jesus’ name

 

Highly favored

anointed

Filled with Your power

For the glory of Jesus’ name

 

And should this life

Bring suffering

Lord, I will remember

What Calvary

has bought for me

Both now and forever

 

To be continued...

I'll see you in the comments dear ones!

 

In His Marvelous Grace,

Tiffany


God Changed My Lens

 

By Ann Hutchison

“It’s excruciating”, I murmured to myself, munching on my toast and staring out the window. As usual, I was mulling over the fact that my husband and I had found ourselves in this … 'horrible' … spiritually mismatched situation. 

It happened to us late in life.  There we were hitting forty, and life had been going according to plan. Then, one day, God landed in our home – through me.  It shook us to the core. 

My husband is a good planner, so this one blindsided him. “I'm not the one who changed and this is not what I married!” He sounded almost angry. 

I couldn't blame him; I was the one who'd changed. I felt so bad.   Open

Bad, that was, until God nudged me differently. Don’t, Ann. However it looks and whatever the hiccups, this conversion will only cause home improvement (Proverbs 31:10-12). 


Ok, I really wasn’t seeing said improvement, but I took the nudge and did something symbolic: I left Proverbs 31 open on my kitchen bench and walked past it as I pottered – back and forth, back and forth. I peeked at the promises occasionally. It’s good that I changed. It's good.

That was helpful. But one night soon after, things took a terrible turn. I came back from a church event and told my husband how very up for God I was – very up for God! I wasn’t prepared for his response: “I don’t know you anymore!” he despaired, putting his head in his hands. 

That night neither of us slept. The next morning, I was resolved, and it wasn't in the right direction. “God help me,” I thought, “I need that man in my bed and I’m not going to lose him for anything.”  And so I shut myself in the bathroom, and crumpled on the floor: “God, I can’t follow you. It’s too hard. I’m out.” 

Ouch. That was an awful day. 

The problem was, I couldn't opt out that easily for I knew by then that God was real. Once you know, where else can you go? Soon after, I took a lone car journey. It gave me the chance to talk to God. As the countryside sped by, my tears flowed, and I whimpered: “I don’t really feel I have much choice here but to say yes to You. But will Bryce leave me?” To my amazement, He answered, and this is what He said:

“Your faith brushes against him like a feather.”  

Wow. I started to think about what a feather feels like: soft, gentle and nice.  And then, slowly I cracked a smile. But there was more:

“The more you love Jesus, the more your husband will love you.” 

Wow again. This was not what I saw but I could choose to trust it (Prov 3:5). 

I wish I could say my choice to follow Jesus was settled then, but it wasn’t. Soon afterwards a fiery battle hit my mind. I began to feel tormented by the fact I was ‘one’ with other Christians (1 Cor 12:27; Psalm 16:3) and with my husband (Mark 10:8). I suppose I felt like I was having an affair with a whole group of other people and that my husband would hate it. I tried repeatedly to run away from the pull of church, the pull of His body, and the pull of Jesus. That was when the Holy Spirit cut through my mess:

“Your husband doesn’t need to feel threatened by My Body.” 

BAM!  Those words came like a shot. Once again, it was a choice to trust what seemed utterly counter-intuitive: His truth. 

As I trusted those particular truths, the battle disappeared. It took a couple of years, but victory came. Those truths were ultimately a sword to my heart – they plunged deep, killing the old me. It was as if God gave me my way out, my victory (Rom 8:37). All I had to do was receive His lens. Now that I look back I don't just crack a feeble smile, I beam from ear to ear. And my husband is coping perfectly well too. My faith was not the marriage disaster I feared it would be. In fact, it's been quite the opposite.

So, that's my story. If yours is similar to mine and you would like prayer, please share in the comments or get in touch -- I'll gladly pray, as will others. 

In friendship,

Ann


FASTING FOR BREAKTHROUGH

Fasting 2018SUMite Nation

Next week, January 8-12, 2018… We will fast together in a Corporate expression of sacrifice and prayer. Seeking a greater intimacy with the Lord and seeking revelation for the year ahead.

Begin to think about what and how you are going to fast. Prepare your family and let them know you will be fasting. Pre-prepare meals for them and let them know that you need their support to fast.

My challenge is for you to fast an entire five days from solid foods. And for some of you who truly need a miracle, a water only fast for five days. If you can’t fast all five days, consider a sunrise to sunset fast, with dinner in the evening.

I also challenge you to fast from television and devote that time to reading the Bible or another book that will strengthen your faith.

Let me ask you this. Do you want 2018 to be better, different, to walk closer to the Lord? Then plan to fast. I’ve discovered through my personal fasting that I did in the fall of 2017, how and what happens in the spiritual realm when we fast.

It’s worth it.

I’ll share more in the days ahead.

Begin praying now for the Lord to call you into a fasting period. Ask Him to supernaturally help you to refrain from eating and to develop a hunger for more of Him.

If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you will receive what you always receive.

WE WANT CHANGE! Let’s fast and bring the power of the Spirit of God into a place of prominence in our lives. Hallelujah!!!

Love you my brothers and sisters. It's gong to be a GREAT year! Lynn


Going in His Presence

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Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mid-year is a big time for our church as we have a celebration dinner where all our campuses around the city come together and break bread together. It’s a night where we reflect on the good things the body has contributed across various activities both locally and overseas. Plus we look forward to the next year and share a vision for how and where the church can contribute. It’s called our Vision Builders dinner.

During the course of the week leading up to the event, I had been reading Exodus 33 where Moses on being commanded to leave Sinai demanded of God that he wouldn’t go anywhere without His presence. Let’s have a look at the passage:

“Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” (Exodus 33: 12-15 NKJV)

Who do we rely upon?

Many commentators believe the favour of God on Moses increased the very moment he said yes and only if God would go with Him. God wants us to be people who do not depend on our own ability, but upon Him.

So often we can set a vision and seek to realise it through our own efforts. Similarly, we can do likewise with the vision we have for our marriages and dealing with the struggles we mismatched ones experience. Many of us love to fix issues quickly, to resolve the struggle, to end the stress of disagreement. It’s natural: who enjoys walking around a house thinking we’re stepping on eggshells or hopping into bed grumpy/angry with our loved one. It’s a lousy feeling, isn’t it?

Even though we sometimes struggle to appreciate it usually there is a lot of stuff going on inside our partner (and ourselves) that we don’t necessarily appreciate. There’s a lifetime of “stuff” that has had an impact, positively and not-so-positively. Yes, girls your husbands who are the quiet, less communicative types still have lots going on inside. (they may not even be aware of it)

And this adds to the complexity and challenge of marriage. And as we all know we then add our “spiritually unmatched” bit and the degree of challenge just goes up.

But the Lord knows what’s going on in each of us. He knows why we are who we are. He understands how being spiritually mismatched adds another challenge to marriage.

That’s why like Moses we need to the Lord’s presence to go with us at all times in our homes and wherever else life takes us. It’s too hard otherwise.

Like Christ

“To be a Christian is to be like Christ.” (Brennan Manning)

The more I study the Gospels the more I appreciate how Jesus didn’t do stuff in his own strength.

“Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19 NKJV)

But the longer I walk this journey with the Lord the more I realise it’s all about doing it with Him. When we spend time with Him both in the secret place (Matthew 6:6) and throughout our days we can both enjoy His presence and be guided by Him.

Does this mean our marriage struggles will suddenly dissolve? No. But in revealing more of His heart for our partners and us we can step out with more confidence (shaky at first) in loving them.

“It is the relationship and intimacy that grows out of remaining in Him that allows you to know His heart …” (Heidi Baker)

If you’re going through a particularly tough time at present may I encourage you to be as bold as Moses and ask the Lord to go with you. To invade your home and heart. And when He says yes, enjoy spending time getting to know His heart for you, your partner and family.

As we know there’s power in our sharing we each other. I encourage you to share in the comments (or if you prefer the FB group) how we can pray specifically for you and your marriage.

Grace and peace, dear SUMites.