105 posts categorized "Christmas"

A Delightful Routine

Hello SUMites Lift our eyes

There's one key to my survival in a SUM, and it's this: Focus on Jesus.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)

You know, when I first took on the task of writing for this blog back in 2017, I asked Lynn, 'What is the key purpose we're trying to achieve?' Her answer: Focus their eyes on Jesus.

What a great answer.

For that reason, there are two points in our year where we deliberately stop and do that:

  1. In March/April, we look at Jesus' death in the Gospels and walk through that story carefully.
  2. In December, we look at Jesus' birth in the Gospels and do the same.

We do that at these times of year because the rest of the church is doing it, and it's a collective effort. It's been part of the church's routine for centuries, ever since the early church was established, and ever since they put in place a liturgy for bringing the different parts of scripture to their congregations. It's an amazing thing to think of the body of Christ collectively marinating in those stories, at those times of year.

We could spend December continuing to talk about the ins and outs of spiritually mismatched life, like we do for most of the year -- honestly, that topic never gets old LOL -- But I like the idea instead of pausing, breathing, and lifting our eyes elsewhere twice a year... Deliberately, and as a group. 

Where does my help come from? Not from earth below, but from Him -- Jesus. He is my love.

So when I next write I'm going to share my own personal approach to how I connect with the birth of Jesus at this time of year.

In the meantime, how about you? Do you have any routines for how you go about connecting with the nativity story? I'd love to hear them, so let's share in the comments!

Love to you all

Ann

p.s. Sorry if I've been slow to reply to comments/messages -- I've been on a beautiful multi-day hike with my family and just got back last night. Am catching up now :-)

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Christmas Traditions

  Blog image Hello  SUMite  family!  I apologize for the delay in posting. I hope you all are having a wonderful December so far! The winter chill is just starting to settle in down here in the southern U.S. It makes me want to stay cuddled up at home with my kids, our dogs, and a few good Christmas movies! Some of these movies I know by heart and watching them every December has become one of my favorite traditions. Which brings me to my topic for today, Christmas traditions!

Traditions are one way we tie the past, present, and future generations together. They are a thread which connect us to our loved ones who are in heaven, who are living, and those who are yet to be. They can be small gestures, large parties, and anything in between. Regardless of their grandeur, their importance is often paramount during the holiday season. 

The first tradition I can remember participating in as a little girl was my mom lighting a candle and having us all sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning. That small gesture helped us remember what we were really celebrating!

One of my favorite newer Christmas traditions is reading the gospel of Luke all through December with my kids. It often leads to deep discussions on faith and the life of Jesus. And I love it! Spending each night in the word puts our focus on the Father. Especially this time of year when the world is telling us to buy, buy, buy! The book of Luke is especially perfect for December because there are 24 Chapters! So, if you decide to get started now you could be done by Christmas if you read two chapters a night! ;)

Another favorite tradition of ours is making gingerbread houses! Each person makes their own and the designs everyone comes up with are always hilarious! I look forward every year to seeing what the kids and Daniel will come up with.

Then of course there are the gatherings with friends and family, gift exchanges, baking etc. So many beautiful experiences all packed into a short time. All of these experiences, all of these connections, are because someone somewhere in our families decided to start a tradition. And each generation held on to that thread, then passed it along to the next.  

I would love to hear about some of your favorite Christmas traditions in the comments!

P.S. I hope this Christmas season is a blessed one for you all! I hope it is filled with love, joy, and peace. Even if you are not surrounded by family. I pray you feel yourself surrounded by the love of our perfect Father, who adores you so! 

Merry Christmas to you all!

And Happy Birthday Jesus! 

 

 

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1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

There Once Was A Man Who Didn't Believe

There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

Snow_church One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.

"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

The geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.Geese winter

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn - and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!"

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese - blind, lost, and perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized!

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:

Mangercross "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"

~Author Unknown

 

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Christmas Break

Hi SUM Nation,

The writing team will be taking a break over the next two weeks. However, we will be back January 1. We will be prepping for our successful fast the week of January 9-13th. Plan to join. We will share more about how to fast and what our focus will be starting on the first.

We love you. You are covered in pray. You walk in the Spirit of the Lord. 

Have a blessed and holy Christmas. Love, Lynn & Ann and the entire team.

Christmas 2022

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

The Theme of Miracles This Month

By Ann Hutchison Christmas graphic

On Wednesday, Ian led us into Advent so nicely. And, continuing on that theme, in today's post I want to mix a little of advent and SUM together.

What I want to do this month is look back on some miracles from our community, and perhaps some other miracles too.

I want to do that because the nativity story is a story of miracles. Crazy things went down that year. The characters involved must have thought 'What on earth is going on?' 

A feeling of holy awe would settle on the people involved, and they were bowled over in wonder. 

Sometimes in this SUM ministry we've had moments of holy awe too; that is, moments where we've sat back wide-eyed because God's hand has been on something. In fact, the journey this whole the SUM community has been on over the last sixteen years is a story I want to curate.

Yet, as Ian said on Wednesday, us SUMites also have long and difficult periods of longing. There are things that happen that are glorious and things that happen that are bittersweet for us. 

Bittersweet often can be part of a glorious move of God. For example, when Jesus was a baby, a man called Simeon prophesied to Mary "A sword will pierce through your own soul."

Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." (Luke 2:34-35)

There is often a rawness behind any given miracle, and here at SUM we see that. We go through raw things that pierce our soul... Yet in those very things lie seeds. There's always a feeling that 'What will God do next?'

Holy awe.

Zacharias was told by the angel Gabriel that his barren wife, Elizabeth would bear a son. He said "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." And so the angel told him he would be mute until the time that these things would be fulfilled (Luke 1:18-20). Zacharias's family and friends later talked to him using signs, so it seems he was deaf and unable to speak. Can you imagine the trauma of that? 

Yet, the minute Zacharias declares that his miraculously born son is to be called John (the baptist), immediately his mouth is opened and his tongue loosed. And at that point, scripture says:

"Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying "what kind of child will this be?" And the hand of the Lord was with him. (Luke 1:65-66, NKJV)

Holy awe. I can just imagine that feeling of awe descending, everyone looking at each other wide-eyed and acknowledging, 'This was a moment; and God was there.'

Have you ever seen something you would describe as a miracle?

Love you all

Ann

(p.s. I am travelling this coming week, so may take a few days to reply to comments!)

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Advent - A Season of Longing!

Pexels-lil-artsy-3440670
Photo courtesy of lil artsy from Pexels.com

Hello, Ian here from sunny Sydney. It’s summertime here and we’ve had a lovely few weeks of great sunny weather. It’s incredible how quickly the year has passed as we’re now only 2.5 weeks away from Christmas.

For many of us 2022 has been a tough year, perhaps another year in a long season of tough years. As a result, many of us may be simply pushing through to Christmas with gritted teeth, avoiding the shops by making their purchases online, and hanging out for the beginning of a new year wishing for a brighter new start in 2023. It may be a real struggle to experience any real joy at present.

If this is you, may I encourage you to take some time out. Close the door behind you or go out for a walk, sit on a rock looking at something beautiful, and simply reflect on how you’re feeling. Invite God to make His presence known. He’s there with you, just waiting for you to say hi and ask Him to be present with you.

Don’t deny your weariness, it’s okay …. and invite God to be near and ask Him for the strength to walk forward. One step at a time. Remember, His words in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” Ask for His strength, not your own.

Advent and Longing

Advent started two Sundays ago. Like Lent at Easter, it’s a season of waiting and hoping. Advent simply means ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’ and alludes to both comings of Jesus, the one of 2000+ years ago when he became like us, born in a manger, and the second where we await his promised second coming.

It's a season of longing. Longing for Jesus.

For those us feeling exhausted and beaten down by life, we long for rest, for an end to the struggle. Most of us would be longing for something. We SUMites especially long for our spouses to find Jesus, don’t we? We long for many things, healing, peace in our homes, a wayward child settling down and more.

Others of us, like myself are in seasons of transition, seeking a new beginning. I’m not far off sixty and having spent the last few years caring for my parents who have both passed in the last 12 months, I am now wondering what’s next. I long for God to give me a nudge or even a BIG shove that helps me see what He’d like us to do together in this next season of my life. It’s a season of excitement wondering what might be ahead and a little frightening for the same reason.

And we long for Jesus. For the joy of the true message of Christmas that a saviour has come, and that Jesus would come again in His victory march upon the earth.

What do we do with our Longing?

A few ideas:

1. Share it with Jesus while sitting on that rock I mentioned earlier. Invite Him into it. He knows we have such a longing.

2. Share it with another. A ‘safe’ other. Someone who will listen and not just hump to ‘solve’ your longing. And who will pray with and for you.

3. Hope. Besides being a season of waiting and longing, Advent is a season of hope. I love what Kate Bowler says about hope:

“But hope isn’t wishful thinking. It’s an anchor in the future.”

Our hope has a name. Jesus. Declare this hope over yourself and your future.

4. Stay close to Jesus. Remember all the ways Jesus has been faithful to you in the past.

An old Christmas Carol

I love Carols. It reminds me of my teen years when my youth group would walk the local streets near our church on Christmas Eve and stop at houses to sing a carol or two.

In the past week, I’ve heard/read of this one written by Charles Wesley that I wasn’t familiar with. It’s a wonderful carol/hymn that expresses our longing. I thought we could ‘pray’ the lyrics as a prayer.

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected JesusBorn to set Thy people free;From our fears and sins release us,Let us find our rest in Thee.Israel's strength and consolation,Hope of all the earth Thou art;Dear desire of every nation,Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,Born a child and yet a King,Born to reign in us forever,Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.By Thine own eternal SpiritRule in all our hearts alone;By Thine all sufficient merit,Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

By Thine all sufficient merit,Raise us to Thy glorious throne

In Jesus’ Loving Name. Amen

Wishing all the SUMites a very blessed, joyous , peaceful and hope-filled Christmas.

Grace and peace.

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

There Once Was A Man Who Didn't Believe

There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

Snow_church One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.

"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

The geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.Geese winter

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn - and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!"

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese - blind, lost, and perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized!

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:

Mangercross "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"

~Author Unknown

 

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

The Puzzle of the Gospels

By Ann Hutchison Baby in manger

Jesus. There is so much swirling disagreement about him that my eyes sometimes widen at that. But this is all part of the package. Long ago, at Jesus's birth it was prophesied by a man called Simeon (Luke 2:34-35) that Jesus would be a "sign that would be spoken against."

And so he is. We roll with the punches.

For the first few years of my faith it seemed that I had an unusually intense group of people around me who disagreed with me about Jesus. Why did there seem to be so many?! It was pretty tough but I look back and think "Actually, those challenges to my faith were not a bad thing."

Not only did I have Bryce who was not on the same page as me but there were others in our family. Added to that, I had a friend of a different faith who expressed vehement views. And then there were two particularly interesting friends from a little social group I was part of  -- Two older men who had once been fervent Christians and had now developed a set of 'logical reasons' why they were not any more. What a crowd of influencers! 

With the two men who left their faith, I did genuinely want to hear their reasons. So I asked them. It's interesting to talk to someone about why they left their faith and it can lead to some good conversations. 

Now many of us here have spouses who also lost their faith, so perhaps you'll be familiar already with this key reason the two men gave: They said they felt the four Gospel accounts had inconsistencies. It was not clear to me how much they had asked God about this, but I decided to look carefully into it.

It's interesting, but instead of what those men saw in the Gospels, I saw something completely different. I saw nothing but a miracle when I looked at the Bible, and the Gospels in that context. It stood out to me that despite there being so many different authors, there was one thread that worked through it all: The salvation of Jesus Christ. The Gospels were, essentially, the 'big reveal' after centuries of writing. 

Could I tell these men that's how I saw it? Well we would probably agree to disagree there... And that's the way it often happens. 

With the Gospels themselves, those inconsistencies are not many but they are interesting. Instead of being flawed I saw the Gospels as being like puzzle pieces that slotted together. On their own they tell one slice of the story, but when you put four accounts together up comes a richer, more comprehensive story. For me, it wasn't necessarily inconsistent, instead a fuller story.

That 'puzzling' aspect of the Gospels has become what I most enjoy about reading them. I often slot the different accounts together when looking at a particular event (e.g. the nativity narrative) and turn the details this way and that, thinking: "What else can I see here?"

The 'inconsistencies' are discussed by apologetics experts and there are explanations. But at the end of the day, I suppose I landed on the fact I did find the Bible to be a miraculous piece of work and so I settled on following Jesus. Added to that, I had some compelling personal experiences that convinced me Jesus was real.

So, back to Simeon's prophecy:

“Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35, NKJV)

My friends, I'd love to chat in the comments, as always.

Ann

p.s. The photo in today's post is of my advent calendar, where one figurine comes out a day. Hence just Jesus!

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Be Present - some thoughts on Advent

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve always loved December. Living in Australia, it’s summer, the end of the school year so we always had our long summer break over December/January. It’s also my birthday month and … it’s Christmas.

I still recall those days approaching Christmas when the presents used to begin to pile up under the tree. Most of them were for dad, he’s a doctor and all his patients bought him presents. Every year. But my sister and two brothers were more excited by what Santa would put in the pillow slips that sat at the end of our beds.

We’d struggle to sleep we were that excited. But mom always warned us that Santa wouldn’t arrive until we were fast asleep.

And then when we woke, far too early for mom and dad, we’d have to wait until they arose before we could open all the goodies in those magical pillowslips.

We had to wait.

The anticipation. The excitement … was electric.

Advent

The season of Advent has commenced. Advent simply means: “coming” or “arrival” – of Jesus.

But as most of us know Jesus took a long time to arrive. Four hundred years in fact. That’s how long the Israelites had to wait.

The four-week season of Advent reflects a time of waiting. We don’t like to wait, do we? Especially if it’s for something important or critical, a test result, an answer to prayer, our pre-believing spouse to meet Jesus, and so on.

“While God rarely comes at our appointed time, he comes at the right time.” (Louis Giglio)

A Different Kind of Waiting

Many of you know how I’ve spent a lot of this year caring for Mum and Dad. Dad moved into palliative care two Thursdays ago. He made that decision which was a great relief for us. At the time of writing, Dad is still with us. Over the past two weeks I’ve learnt a lot about waiting and the dying process.

Immediately after the Doctor advised me that Dad had expressed his wish to move into palliative care, I sat with Dad. I took his hand as I do each day, and he told me how he’d had a premonition a few days ago about dying. Interestingly, I said to him that a few days ago the Lord had given me this wonderful picture of many witnesses taking a hold of Dad’s frail body and carrying him to the finish line. Standing before the finish line was Jesus, ready to receive Dad and take him onto the next adventure. You see Dad isn’t really a man of faith, he has a notion of God but not Jesus.

During these ten days or so of Dad’s body gradually slowing down and he increasingly unable to communicate, the Lord has shown me this beautiful picture of how much He loves Dad. It’s glorious and simply irresistible. Every time I look at Dad I weep because of how beautiful he is. It's like God has let me see Dad through His eyes. His love for each one of His children is breathtaking and incredibly reassuring for those of us who wait for our loved one to pass.

Before Dad stopped communicating, we chatted about him seeing his Mum and Dad again, feasting on the best meal he’s ever eaten. And he smiled so contentedly. I believe I’ll see Dad again one day.

How do we Wait?

December is often a frantic month. Besides finishing end of year projects there is the added weight of present buying, parties to attend, gatherings with family and friends. All around us there are reminders of what is coming: the lights, the decorations, the music, the extra crowded malls and our own stress levels.

For many, December is a month full of sadness for a variety of reasons and simply getting any time to reflect only brings back sad or negative memories. And so we enjoy the busy because it keeps us from reflecting on those memories.

But what is the gift we are expecting? Or more precisely, who is the gift? Who is arriving?

Jesus.

A little challenge

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

In amongst the busyness of December may I encourage us all to find some time to sit in the Lord’s presence. And be still. Shut the door both physically but also to your inner sanctuary. “The voice of God is very gentle; we can’t hear it if we let other voices compete.” (Robyn Wrigley-Carr)

It's just you and God. Picture God, the lover of your soul, gazing at you with immense love, such love that only He can give.

And breathe it in. You don’t need to talk, say anything, perhaps invite Jesus in by whispering His name or anything else that takes your fancy. And if you start thinking about all the things you should be doing, just say ‘Jesus’ again to go back to Him and His love.

It might last two minutes, maybe five or ten. You might experience nothing. May I encourage you to do it again a few times and before long you’ll be longing to get away and sit with Jesus regularly.

We wait actively. By being present in the moment. Sitting with Jesus helps us to discover both more of Him but how to be present.

Wishing all of my SUMite friends a joyful Advent season full of Jesus wonder and anticipation of His constant presence in our lives.

PS. My family (especially Mum) are all doing okay about Dad. We’re sad but we’ve been preparing for this season for a while now. And thank you for the love (and prayers) you’ve shown me over the past year. It’s been a such blessing for me. And I've felt everyone of those prayers.

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

December Rhythms and Routines

Hi my dear friends, it's Ann here. Writing

Well, it's December (hooray!) and today I wanted to chat about personal rhythms and routines over Advent.

With the cosiness of Christmas in the air, I just love December. And one of the reasons for that is I have a few little special things I do to connect with God. These things are special enough to me that I start to look forward to them in November!

Centuries ago, the Western church developed a liturgy to help their congregations connect through the year with the Gospel. Specific scriptures were read on certain dates, and specific stories from scripture were celebrated. I imagine that was a very helpful thing for those who loved God but couldn't necessarily read his word. Well, these days I think we can do the same in our personal lives: We can find some special personal routines throughout our year that help us remember and connect with aspects of God.

When it comes to Advent and December, I thought I might share with you my three special practices, and I'd love to hear from you in turn if you have any special Christmas faith routines. I'm sure I'll adopt more routines as the years pass, but for now here are my three:

First of all, on 1 December I pick up my heavy leather Bible, open up its beautiful pages to the nativity sections in Matthew and Luke and start to read. I say Matthew and Luke because they're the only two out of the four Gospels that cover Jesus's birth. I take my time over them, marinating in them, piecing them together like a jigsaw puzzle, and reading one section a day. 

They are fascinating narratives; they never get old. I find I look back sometimes on the Old Testament prophecies that go with certain parts. I shake my head in wonder at the Bible and this part of it -- The nativity story. It is truly a mind-blowing thing, and also a very surprising thing that God did here: A baby in a manger. A messiah born to an 'unmarried' woman? Bemusing. Mesmerizing. Full of symbolism. 

The second thing I do is crack open my own journals for the whole past year and start to re-read them over the month of December. Now this one involves a lot of sitting around with a whole lot of coffee; which, to Bryce, does look a little lazy. But it's amazing to look back on what God has done. I find I've asked God a lot of questions and have written down everything I've prayed for, so sometimes I find myself startled to see within the pages of those journals that "Wow, Lord, you really did answer that."

And finally, as Christmas approaches I book myself a hotel room for the night and take 24 hours away with God. It's indulgent, I know, but sometimes a mother's got to do what a mother's got to do. I tell my family it's 'Mum's strategic planning day', at which they burst into laughter. But truly it's to talk to God about the coming year. 

I guess I'm writing this because the success of our walk as SUMites is so heavily driven by how deep our intimacy with God is. And now, our ability to cope with this pandemic is also going to be impacted by the same. Yes, we have at least two tough things we are enduring (the SUM, the pandemic) .. And if we have tough stuff in our lives, oh how we need Jesus like we need air!

How about you? I'd love to hear of any routines you have at Christmas time. Yours might look completely different to mine but hey, variety is just great, and so I'm looking forward to chatting about this one.

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

The Once Was A Man Who Didn't Believe

It's been a number of years since I've shared this post. But it speaks to me today. I pray it speaks to you as well. Merry Christmas, Lynn

 

There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

Snow_church One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.

"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

The geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.Geese winter

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn - and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!"

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese - blind, lost, and perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized!

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:

Mangercross "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"

~Author Unknown

 

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

May We Cling Tenaciously to Jesus

Dear friends, Ann here. Alpha omega

With only a couple of days until Christmas I wanted to wish you a special time with your loved ones. And I know I speak on behalf of the rest of the team -- Lynn, Ian, and Tiffany -- in saying a heartfelt 'Merry Christmas' from us!

Here is a beautiful verse to settle our gaze upwards:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT)

One way of keeping our thoughts fixed on Jesus is to look back on some moments in our faith life that have been especially important to us. So with that in mind I thought I would share one such moment that I've been thinking about today.

A few years ago, I went through a patch where I spent a lot of time asking God ‘What is true?’ By that, I wanted to know where to align my most basic beliefs. I was driven to ask this because there were so many opinions out there, and Bryce wasn't in a believing place at all, so that brought many questions.

Anyway, when we genuinely ask 'What is true?' God loves to answer us. And indeed he did. One night he woke me with a very strong phrase in my spirit. BAM! It was so strong that I went from deeply asleep to sitting up with a pounding heart in the dark. It was this:

Cling tenaciously to the risen Jesus Christ, your Savior.

That was God's answer to my question. Since then, when I have thought about that phrase it's been a reminder that it is Him -- Jesus -- who is to be my focus.

Looking back now, I can say that God has done many things to show me that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and the Door to my eternal inheritance. He has also shown me that what I have here on earth is not my identity. What is in Heaven is. It's mind-stretching, but I know how much that matters.

So, one of the things I want to say to any non-believer in my life (when the opportunity is ripe), is this:

“How you respond to Jesus Christ is the most important thing you will ever decide in your life.”

End of story. Yes. But still, it's the work of a lifetime to understand what the message of Jesus means to us. Even though I have been a believer for some time, every December looks different as I learn different aspects of the Gospel and its personal relevance to me.

This particular December, for example, I have been reflecting on the simple fact that God came to earth. And earth was the most difficult place to be. It is a hard, hard life here on earth, but how much harder would it have been for Jesus -- God -- in that state of perpetual rejection, eyeballing the darkness when his very nature could not co-exist with it? Besides the cross, a lifetime's worth of the most intense kind of warfare on earth would have been pure pain. I imagine.

It's all too easy to treat this fact lightly; but how profound it is. It’s beyond what we would think or imagine; and it is simply amazing that he did it for us.

SUMites, thank you for your friendship as we constantly fix our eyes together on Jesus and cheer each other on. You are a special breed of people, and with that I say .. Happy Christmas!

Ann

 

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Oh, the Sweetness of a Friend!

Hi everyone -- Ann here, and a happy Advent season to you all! Christmas 4

In the spirit of Christmas, I'd wanted to pick one of the stories from the Gospels to talk about today, but which one to choose? These stories are all so full of wonder. After some thought, I finally landed on a favorite of mine: The story where God gives Mary a friend. Elizabeth.

I just find that detail really sweet: God gave her a friend.

And he will do the same for us; when we need it.

Like Mary, many of us SUMites battle a strange kind of loneliness. We have an unusual circumstance to live with; and, like Mary, we don’t ‘tick the boxes’. She was made pregnant out of wedlock but in a Holy way. There's nothing conventional about that. And not much is conventional about us, either.

“Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.’ " (Luke 1:30-31, NKJV)

Then Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I do not know a man? And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy one who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (v. 34-35)

I've been thinking about this passage, and I suspect that Mary's first concern would have been her sanity. She must, surely, have asked herself whether she was crazy! If we ever encounter the supernatural, that’s the obvious question. Did I really experience that?! Well, she really did -- So somehow God had to help her believe it.

In a similar way, when we are the only Christians in our marriage, we face big reasons to doubt this supernatural belief of ours. Can I really believe Jesus was resurrected? Can I really? Or am I nuts?

And so ... God sends us friends to help us face those doubts.

I love the fact that the angel Gabriel gives Mary an instant way of verifying the seemingly crazy thing she was hearing. He says this:

"Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren." (v. 36)

Then, of course, Mary made haste to visit and find out if Elizabeth really was pregnant. But most importantly, when she tumbled through Elizabeth's door she found herself face-to-face with one sweet friend who was able to say 'YES' to her. 'Yes, it is ok for you to believe this -- You are not crazy!' And that would have made Mary feel a whole lot less alone.

I often think that’s what happens here even with this community. We ‘get’ each other. We are each other's flesh-and-blood helpers. But even beyond that, I know that God sends us help in the form of other Christian friends here and there: Friends who simply help us believe.

There's one noticeable element in this story, and it’s this: Mary wasn’t given a crowd. She was only given one lady. And that’s how it often is for us. I look back on my Christian journey so far and realize that God has given me some quality people to help me carry my cross. Each of these people, for me, have been like Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus a little way, just to help him keep going (Mark 15:21). But they have been small in number. And sometimes they've only stayed for a season.

I guess our job is to recognize who those people are. To recognize who it is that we CAN safely share the contents of our heart with; just like Mary shared her heart with Elizabeth. 

If you are feeling lonely right now because of your SUM, a great prayer would be to ask the Lord for an Elizabeth. Wouldn't that be wonderful! Or, if you are feeling like you have energy to give to another, an equally good prayer would be: 'Send me to someone who needs my friendship, Lord.'

As for you, how are you finding the situation with Christian friendships at the moment? Perhaps we can share a little in the comments.

With love,

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Waiting in the Dark - some thoughts on Advent

I’ve always loved December. Living in Australia, it’s summer, the end of the school year so we always had our long summer break over December/January. It’s also my birthday month and … it’s Christmas.

I still recall those days approaching Christmas when the presents used to begin to pile up under the tree. Most of them were for dad, he’s a doctor and all his patients bought him presents. Every year. But my sister and two brothers were more excited by what Santa would put in the pillow slips that sat at the end of our beds.

We’d struggle to sleep we were that excited. But mom always warned us that Santa wouldn’t arrive until we were fast asleep.

And then when we woke, far too early for mom and dad, we’d have to wait until they arose before we could open all the goodies in those magical pillowslips.

We had to wait.

The anticipation. The excitement … was electric.

A Year of Darkness

  1. Will live long in our memories. Mostly not for good reasons. But for the darkness that enveloped the world and continues to in so many countries.

And we’ve done a lot of waiting this year haven’t we? For test results, for lockdowns to cease, for vaccines to be produced, for election results to be finalized. And we still wait.

Advent

The season of Advent has commenced. Advent simply means: “coming” or “arrival” – of Jesus.

But as most of us know Jesus didn’t arrive without a long, long wait. Four hundred years in fact. That’s how long the Israelites had to wait. Jesus was born into a world of great darkness. Isaiah had prophesied, "the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death alight has dawned." (Matthew 4:16 referencing Isaiah 9:1-2)

The four-week season of Advent reflects a time of waiting. What, another season of waiting? Haven’t we waited enough this year?

We don’t like to wait, do we? If we didn’t know this before now, we sure do now.

“While God rarely comes at our appointed time, he comes at the right time.” (Louis Giglio)

In fact, we are experienced waiters. We wait for our spouses to come to know the Lord. How long, Lord?

We celebrate the coming of Jesus as a bub every year at Christmas, but we still wait on Him coming a second and final time. We live in Advent all the time.

Waiting for … Jesus.

Jesus.

Remember those days of childlike anticipation, the sense of wonder, on that day? Christmas Day.

Choose to Listen.

How are you feeling at the moment? Why not express it in the comments below. Get it out in writing. It’s healing.

May I encourage us all in these next few weeks to find some time to sit in the Lord’s presence. Share with Him how you're feeling in this season. And listen. Really listen. God wants to speak to us. No, it’s unlikely to be audible but He’s never stopped talking to us.

He’s coming. Jesus. For you. He’s especially chosen you. You who are holy and dearly loved.

One of the earliest recorded prayers of the Church is the Aramaic word, ‘Maranatha’. It simply means, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20)

May I encourage you to simply pray that prayer, either the Aramaic or the English.

And wait. And listen.

Perhaps also read the story of when Mary received a very special and unusual visitor, Gabriel, in Luke 1:26-38. Let go of everything else that’s going on around you. Desire to hear from God and ask the Spirit to speak to you. Picture yourself in Mary’s place. Imagine the awesomeness of the situation, listen to Gabriel’s words and what they mean.

Write down what you heard, how you felt.

We’d love to hear some of your responses in the comments.

Wishing all of my SUMite friends a joyful Advent season full of childlike wonder and anticipation.

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Merry Christmas

SUMites,

Enjoy your Christmas with your family. I pray you are overwhelmed by the love of our Savior. Tune into Him this season and watch how He changes your life.

We will be on break until after Christmas... Then get ready for 2020. It's going to be a BIG year ahead and I have so much to share with you. I'll post more after Christmas.

Walk in love, Warriors! I love all of you from the depth of my heart. 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Barn 2019

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Your Everyday- A Sign and Wonder

Mary Joseph Jesus nativity 2019Today let’s consider our young Mary again. As we join the story, we find her in Bethlehem.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. —Luke 2:7-11

This ordinary girl finds herself in with the sheep as she struggles through her labor. She isn’t assisted by the angels through delivery, nor while she rode nine-months-pregnant on the back of a donkey. She merely went about life when she left Elizabeth as any other woman of her day. She washed clothes, made the bread, sewed new garments, and prepared meals.

She merely did the next right thing. The ordinary life.

But in this amazing passage her ordinary became a sign and a wonder to millions. And it first began with the shepherds. You see, Mary gave birth to Jesus. And when He arrived, naturally she sought to cover her naked baby to warm the child. Just an ordinary, normal, mothering moment.

The next right step.

She tore strips of cloth either from her garment or something nearby and wrapped the baby boy in swaddling clothes.

The next right step.

And this ordinary thing, this next right step, it became a sign and a wonder that continues to echo throughout millennia.

The angels announced to the shepherds in the fields (and to all of us who read the Word):

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. — Luke 2:11

Her ordinary became a sign and a wonder.

My dear, dear SUMites, what ordinary thing that you have done, that you’ve touched, or ordinary prayer might become a sign and a wonder? A wonder to a lost spouse? What might be a miraculous sign to a friend, a neighbor, another believer? What ordinary thing, what next right step might be the very thing that changes a city, or a nation, or generations of lives in the future?

You, my dear friend ARE A SIGN AND A WONDER. Never let anyone tell you differently. Making dinner, sweeping the floor, praying for the sick, sharing a word that transforms one other person might possibly redirect the trajectory of a person, then a family, then generations or perhaps our entire world.

It boggles the mind.

Read the story of the birth of Jesus this year. Read it to your kids. And ask the Lord to reveal how your ordinary is extraordinary.

I love you.

Merry Christmas!

Walk in love, Warriors! Hugs, Lynn

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Advent - A Season for Delighting

ID-100584545
Image courtesy of jeswin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear SUMite friends, it’s Ian from sunny Sydney here. I love that Lynn’s previous post involved Mary as I too seek to dig a little deeper on one aspect of her story.

Let’s quickly look at the scene once again. I’d encourage you to read it in its entirety, Luke 1:26-38. And as you read it, picture yourself in the scene. Stand alongside Mary, our teenage girl. Innocent and naïve. But one who is a committed believer in God. She has read all the stories of Abraham, Moses, the other Joseph and the like. These heroes of the faith are very dear to her. She knows God uses ordinary people to do great things.

All of a sudden and out of nowhere, Gabriel arrives. Picture this mighty esteemed angel. I do wonder what he looks like. Is he a giant with wings like the magnificent artwork of yesteryear or does he come in the appearance of a man? Interestingly, the first impression we have of Mary in response to his appearance is that “she is perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” No mention of her being terrified by his sudden appearing nor of any imposing presence but his words that she is the “favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Bearer of Good News

Gabriel informs Mary that she too will join the heroes of the Old Testament and be used by God for a great purpose. Luke in sharing this story contrasts Mary’s response to Gabriel’s words with those of Zechariah of a few verses earlier. Mary’s response is simply one of wonder and seeking to understand. Zechariah sought immediate proof to believe. He didn’t, so he was struck dumb.

“How can this be, since I am a virgin?” she asks innocently. Gabriel explains the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and that she will carry for nine months the Son of God. Further, he validated his statement by providing the testimony of her cousin, Elizabeth, also being pregnant, as Lynn shared with us on Monday.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

This statement has been significant for me this year simply in acknowledging that all God sees is possibility. Let that sink in. We kinda put things into two buckets, don’t we? The possible bucket and the impossible one. Not God. There is only one bucket – possibility. I love that. Remember that when you get disheartened about your spouse ever coming to know Jesus.

Interestingly, one commentary I read recently mentioned how Gabriel, effectively waits for a response from Mary. Will she respond positively to God’s favor or not? In effect, this commentator indicates that Mary had a choice. Like we all do when God enters. We can choose to say yes, or reject Him.

Let’s face it, Mary as a teenage girl carrying a baby that is not her fiancé’s was set for a very difficult pregnancy. She would likely be rejected by Joseph and her family. But, as we know she responds affirmatively: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

What courage, what obedience. She chose to abandon her own will and to follow that of the Lord. I wish I had this young girl’s faith.

The Magnificat

Lynn shared with us how Mary went off to see her cousin, Elizabeth. Oh, and how we could spend lots of time reviewing that scene. But I want to conclude this post by reflecting on a favourite verse of many of us

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 AMP)

Too often we hope that in believing God He will give us our desires. But this verse clearly shows there is a condition. And a significant one. God wants us to delight in Him.

This is what Mary did as expressed in the “Song of Mary” or “The Magnificat” as it has become known in the Biblical lectionary. Read it aloud for yourself: Luke 1:46-55. It is Mary’s hymn of praise. I suspect she sang this song many times during her pregnancy and through the years she mothered her son, Jesus.

This Christmas, let’s be intentional in simply praising our God. Sing those Christmas hymns with a little more gusto and passion. Because He is good, faithful and loves each one of us (including our unsaved spouses) like crazy. This is why we celebrate Christmas – God in loving us so much gave His son to be born to a young teenage girl, so that we could fall in love with Him and live a life to His glory.

Wishing all my SUMite family a most blessed Christmas. Be safe, be merry and delight in our most awesome God.

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

She's A Lot Like Me

Luke 2 11 Christmas 2019The Birth of Jesus.

SUMites, you know, I’ve read the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke 1&2 so many times, I nearly have it memorized in King James. But what I find is that when a story in the Word becomes overly familiar, we breeze past it and we lose some of the miraculous that it contains.

And if you aren’t aware, one of the coolest things about scripture is there are layers of meaning. Revelation comes from deeper places within the words and the LORD loves to reveal more and more as we mature. That’s the wonder of the Word of God. We can read it for 85 years and continue to be captivated by increasing understanding.

Say what??? It’s amazing.

So, will you go with me into this beautiful story about a teenaged girl named Mary. I want to share two things about Mary that I learned just this year. Perhaps you already received these gifts, but for me, what I uncovered is new and it changes me.

I want to start with the story of Mary when the angel appeared to her.

Luke 1:27 “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Ya, wouldn’t you be surprised?

I’ll tell you this, I often ask the Lord to reveal an angel in the physical so that I’m able to behold its presence with my natural eyes. I believe THIS WILL HAPPEN before I die. So, when it does, you can bet, you’ll be the first people I tell.

This particular Christmas I’m actually fascinated with the fact that the angel tells Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, is six months pregnant despite her infertility and old age. Why did the angel include this information with his pronouncement???

Any idea?

Mary was an ordinary woman. She could have been you… Or me. She was a young girl who was given a responsibility that boggles the mind. But, think about this. Although or should I say, EVEN THOUGH an angel appeared to her and told her what was about to happen, she still wrangled with it all. In the moment with the angel present, it was easy to believe. But after the angel left, she struggled with questions and perhaps doubt.

How do I know this? Well first it’s human nature. God can appear and yet we doubt. Just take a read through the Old Testament.

As believers in the era of Grace, we experience the same thing. We pray. We ask God to give us an answer. And miraculously, we receive a whisper to our heart or a prophetic word, or a straight up answer in the Bible, yet we doubt.

God did you really tell me……..

God can you give me a sign……

It’s okay. No condemnation. God knows our human nature so very well.

Indeed, God knew that even our beloved Mary would need a confirmation. Did you know that?

Well, that is why the angel tells Mary that Elizabeth is pregnant.

Because the iPhone wasn’t around, Mary immediately leaves Galilee and travels three to five days walking to Jerusalem to “CONFIRM” what the angel said. Because if indeed, Elizabeth was pregnant, that means that Mary is pregnant and will deliver the Deliverer.

WHOA!

Mary needed some reassurance. It boggles my mind that she needed the angel’s words confirmed to her. Oh, humanity of little faith!!

Oh, but let this truth sink in. How many promises are you waiting upon? How many prophetic words have you received? How many whispers from the Lord are yet to be fulfilled? Perhaps it’s normal to process through doubt. Perhaps it’s okay to once-in-a-while ask the Lord for a confirmation.

When we are entering into new levels of faith and greater works for the Kingdom, I believe God loves to confirm His words. I also believe that once He does, He’s expecting to see our maturity and wait it out in faith.

But for today, in this special Christmas season, I feel as though the Lord is inviting us to ask. He is giving us grace to ask about long-held promises and ask for a confirmation. He is allowing us this special “Mary” gift nestled within the birth of Jesus story to seek Him and allow us to receive His truth, His promises and even confirmations.

I truly believe this is a divine moment for us. A special door has been opened just for us that we might ask for confirmation. But when we ask, choose to believe and hold on to His confirmation like a bulldog. Don’t let His Word be tossed to-and-fro. Stand upon His promise. Quote it back to Him. And write down how He confirms His word because if He says He will do something.

He will!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. —Luke 2:11

On Friday, I have another ordinary moment that is rich! Stay tuned. Stay warm. Walk in love, Warrior! Hugs, Lynn

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

God's Voice: The Faintest Whisper

Hi friends, Ann here! Still small voice

Two Christmases ago, I was sitting alone in a spacious old church in Edinburgh enjoying a family service. I'd been visiting that city on a solo trip and it was a treat to go to a new church. I chose one to visit and as I took my seat it warmed my heart to be surrounded by a hall full of believers, though I knew none of them.

As the singing began, I got the faintest thought that there might be someone there whose spouse did not yet believe – Someone there whom, maybe, I could help. I brushed it off but as the singing continued the thought came back. I brushed it aside again and carried on singing.

Another song passed, and the tiny thought came back, now niggling me. Eventually I turned to the lady next to me and asked: “Is there someone here whose spouse doesn’t believe?” I mean there are usually plenty in churches, so there would be. I just wondered if it was someone she could point out.

Her eyes scanned the hall, going left, going right. Nope, couldn’t see anyone. She looked behind, but still couldn’t see anyone. Her brow was furrowed by this point, “I’m sure there are, I just can’t think …” And then she looked in front of her: “OH, yes –”, and pointed to the lady right in front of me, on the floor alongside her husband, watching the kids in the nativity play. “Yes, there she is with her husband. He’s very good, he comes to church with her but doesn't believe.”    

“Is it hard for her?” I asked.

“It is.” She said.

I watched this beautiful couple during that service, thinking “I feel I would know how to encourage you, if we ever chatted.”

Then another thought came: “I should tell her she’s not a second-class Christian.” It really was a fleeting thought, one that could have been my own, certainly no thunderbolt. But equally, perhaps it was the Holy Spirit. So I did it. I walked over to her straight after the service, crouched down by her seat, and told her that I just wanted to encourage her. I didn’t mention the spiritually mismatched part. I just told her that what she was doing for her family by carrying her faith strongly was making such an impact, that it was a difficult faith road she walked, and that God is pleased with her. 

Hearing God in our day-to-day is hardly ever a thunderbolt, and it is the still small voice. Nevertheless, as I walked out of the church that day I felt I wanted to know: “Was that really you speaking to me, Lord, or am I on a wild walk of the imagination here?!”

What happened next was more educative for me than I might have thought. 

Two days later I was sitting on a bus travelling through a completely different part of Edinburgh from that church. The bus stopped at a red light, and I absentmindedly watched the crowds pass on the pavement.  In my daydreaming state, however, I was suddenly startled to see none other than that lady’s husband standing on the pavement! I did the most enormous double take. What was interesting about the scene was that everyone around him was in grey or beige, but this guy, he looked so colorful – I think he was wearing a crisp yellow and the brightest blue. He stood out from the crowd.

It seemed God was saying to me there, "Yes, you did hear my voice that day."

The reason it was educative was it confirmed to me that I should probably take note of these gentle whispers more than I do. It also showed me that if I ask God for help in figuring out whether I'm hearing Him He will come through for me.

So that's my story. What are your experiences or thoughts about hearing the still small voice even when it seems faint? I look forward to chatting in the comments.

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

When God gives us a Promise

Hi friends, Ann here.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Elizabeth (Luke chapter 1). Blessed is she who has believedM Her story gets told each Christmas, but this year I'm noticing a curious detail: Her promise had a plot twist. Her baby had a surprise name. And it was this surprise that made her friends and neighbours marvel.

“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” (Luke 1:57-63, NIV).

Elizabeth’s promise was different to what she, or anyone, guessed: The conventional name would have been Zechariah. Instead, the name was John, and he was a wild man who wandered the desert eating locusts and honey.

So far so good.

Now for us, and our promises. I wonder how many of you are believing a promise from God? If so, I imagine it relates to your spouse or, perhaps, children getting to know Jesus? That is certainly the case for me. It might be a promise we've taken from scripture, or it may even be a promise that we've heard the Holy Spirit speak to us.

If you do have a promise you're believing, I wonder if, like me, you have preconceived ideas about what it will look like? For example, my own imagination takes me on adventures. I've imagined my husband suddenly deciding he’s super interested in God. Or, perhaps he will wake to see an angel at the bottom of his bed (I say that laughing). Or, it'll be some dramatic encounter with the Holy Spirit.

Well, I'm realizing I need to think again. God is the storyteller of our lives, and He is fabulously creative. Whatever I’ve imagined won’t be what it looks like. There’s a precedent to this: The greatly anticipated messiah came, but he did so as a baby, then a carpenter in Nazareth, then an itinerant wanderer. Was that expected?

With that in mind, now I have a story to tell: Recently, I heard God say: “Ann, be prepared for your promise to not look how you expect.” 

It was curious to me that something strange happened in my home the very same week: My oldest son, Travis, woke in the middle of the night to feel an earthquake. In the morning, he got up and looked online to see what magnitude it had been. To his surprise he discovered there was no earthquake that night. 

This might have been considered chance, but we had a similar experience when I converted. Several years ago just before my own conversion, Bryce woke in the night with the same thing. He was asleep in a hotel when an ‘earthquake’ shook him awake. He turned on the TV expecting to see a news report and there was no earthquake. Shortly after that my conversion happened and it certainly caused a shaking in our home. It knocked me to my knees, shook everything that could be shaken and left only the important things in my own heart: Faith, hope, and love. 

So, friends, watch this space -- Something could be upon my home again. Elizabeth’s name means ‘God has promised’ and like her I believe that Life is coming. I'm just quietly prepared for the unexpected.

How about you -- What promise(s) are you carrying right now? I enjoy hearing 'promise' stories, so share away in the comments.

Nice chatting,

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Advent - An Invitation to Go Deeper

3-advent-wreath-rejoice-gaudete
Photo courtesy of LiturgyTools.net

The Christmas season comes around every year and for many of us it’s kind of the same-old-same-old. Yes, the specialness of the season are the traditions of it and doing the same things every year.  We put up the same tree and decorations, listen to the same Christmas music, have the same family mealtimes, attend the various end of year gatherings and church services and so on.

The busyness of it and the stress of battling through all the shopping crowds, the cooking of all the food and keeping the house clean can serve to distract us. We consciously decide to stay positive and not allow the stress to affect us or the awkward family moments we often experience.

And before we know it, it’s over for another year. We collapse on our lounges having eaten too much and exhausted from the intensity of our family gatherings. For an introvert like myself I’m hankering to get back into my cave to recharge.

Waiting

Advent can simply be another tradition. We light the candles at the appropriate times, pick up an Advent-dedicated devotional and even perhaps follow the alternate lectionaries of Bible readings. Like any ‘practice’ we can simply go through the motions. I know I’m regularly guilty of doing exactly that.

I especially love Advent. However, I need to be very intentional to ensure it’s simply not another tradition that I ‘do’ because it makes me feel good. I don’t want to simply go through the motions.

Advent is a season of waiting. Waiting for an “arrival” (which is what the word, Advent means) of the Messiah. Waiting generally is uncomfortable, isn’t it? It’s uncomfortable because it means we’re not in control. I was only sitting on a plane today thinking we were about to take off when we’re advised that three passengers hadn’t checked in. Arggh. I just want to get home. So we wait. Fifteen minutes pass (which feels like an hour) and two of the three sheepishly head down the aisle sensing the boring eyes of every passenger they pass. We wait some more. Until finally a decision is made to go without the remaining one. I wonder how many of us spared a thought for the passenger left behind or in our hearts were simply glad to be on our way?

The Israelites were used to waiting. What 400 years before the arrival of Jesus? We SUMites are used to waiting too, aren’t’ we? Waiting for the many prayed prayers for the salvation of our dearly loved spouses to be answered. We should be experts at it, shouldn’t we?

Hopeful Expectation

We can choose to walk through Advent with hopeful expectation. Maybe Christmas will be difficult for whatever reason which makes us apprehensive. But we can keep our minds and hearts on the good news of Jesus. He is the liberator, the lover of our souls and we can choose to use these days to intentionally go deeper with Him.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[it.” (John 1:4-5 NIV)

Jesus is the light. And as these verses tell us He shines in the darkness. May I encourage you to take a few moments today or tomorrow or the next day to identify the places in your life where you might be struggling to find God. Where are the places of darkness? These can be scary places because we worry that Jesus won’t show up. So here’s what we’ll do:

  1. Once you’ve identified a dark place, invite Jesus into it. Picture Him walking into the room, holding your hand. Every time you sense darkness, invite Jesus to come into. Our friend, Martha, actually spends each morning siting in the dark communing with God awaiting the light of the morning sunrise. It’s a wonderful practice to mirror this exercise.
  2. Be assured that He is with you. Be assured that He hears all of our prayers, all those prayers we’ve prayed for the salvation of our spouses and loved ones. Encourage yourself with the words of Psalm 56:8 –

“You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.”

Spending moments of stillness where it’s just you and God are particularly special in this season. I’ve recently started using an App that Ransomed Heart have released. It’s simply called “One Minute Pause”. Go check it out – it’s free. Here’s the link to the Apple version but there is also an Android one, just search for it in the Android app store: - https://apps.apple.com/app/id1471913620

Come, let us adore Him, Jesus that is, this season. Let’s be intentional with hope in our hearts. Blessing, dear friends. I’ll be checking in midway during the month with a second post on Advent.

Perhaps in the meantime let’s share with each other what we’re hoping for this Christmas. I’m hoping for complete healing for my brother, John, who is walking through a stem cell transplant to keep lymphoma at bay. Unfortunately, he will be spending Christmas in a hospital isolation ward.

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

The Christmas Project Planner

Gang,

Most of you know that I've been friends with author, Kathi Lipp, for years. She writes amazing books that truly improve our lives. Well, a few days ago she sent me a copy of her recent book.

Christmas Project Planner Kathi Lipp

The Christmas Project Planner is amazing. It's beautiful gift to receive and work out of to retain your sanity during the busiest time of year.

Please order your copy at Amazon. And I'm offering a copy as a giveaway. Please enter your name and a comment why you need this book in the comments. I'll choose a winner next Tuesday so that the winner receives the book for November planning. 

Wahoo. God bless you Kathi! 

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Because of the Manger... Birth of the King!

From my prayer time this Christmas: December 2018

From the Father:

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com In the quiet before the early light of Christmas traditions, My child, rise and sit alone with Me. Press into My heart and travel with Me through the ages, back to a tiny town in the Judean desert.

This village, Bethlehem, shelters a teenaged, soon-to-be mother, struggling in labor throughout the night. Allow your heart to perceive the paddock of bleating sheep and goats, shivering in the cold as they huddle about the tiny family. Feel the course, dry straw where Mary, the mother of God, rests as she pushes through her pain, hour-by-hour.

Breathe in the earthy smells of the animals, the feed, the dung, as the couple labor together. The shadows flicker across the beams of the manger, lit by a single candle.

Finally, the last cry and she pushes forth the child. The King of Kings, the Messiah arrives into the hands of a young Jewish man, Joseph of Nazareth. He quickly comforts the cries of the child, wiping him clean. Resting the child in the trough made for the animals, he turns to Mary, wipes her face then settles her with a sip of water. She fades off to sleep.

Wrapping the child in torn strips from Mary’s dress, the child rests. Joseph ponders the destiny of this tiny baby within his hands. He prays. He offers thanks to the Heavenly Father as he gazes into the perfect face of a babe that is the Chose One, The Christ, who has come for all people.

All of heaven responds in a culmination of majestic worship and praise echoing throughout the eons. The angles sing, hallelujah! The heavens rejoice. Time splits in two. Hope returns. Joy and Freedom is proclaimed over the people. Devils flee.

The love of God is alive upon the earth.

Immanuel —God with us!

Luke 2: 6-14 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

The Difference Between Zechariah and Mary

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com We are nearing the time and the town of Bethlehem. Last week in the comments Cindy, brought forward an interesting observation. And today as I’m reading the story of Christmas from the first chapter of Luke, my eyes are drawn again and again to the angel Gabriel and his proclamation of the birth of the Messiah given to Mary, a young woman living in Galilee.

Cindy pointed out the difference between Zechariah’s questioning of Gabriel in contrast to Mary’s question put to the angel. Zach’s question was a cloak of disbelief and Mary’s???? Well as Cindy shared last week, Mary, was asking out of curiosity about how the conception and birth would come about.

This is what I believe we can receive from these two contrasts that are very similar and both prominent in the telling of the birth of the Messiah.

It’s all about the heart!

My friends, it’s our inner core, who we truly are and what we believe, that God comprehends in perfect clarity.

People are sophisticated and very clever about cloaking their full truth from others, but God understands our entire “real” self, every moment of every day. What fascinates me is that Mary proclaimed her acceptance of Gabriel’s word from the LORD in her song for Elizabeth. And within this song exists another profound truth about the human and spiritual condition of people.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. — Luke 1:51

Our thought life is everything!

What we think matters because our thoughts birth things into our lives, good or wicked. And Mary is stating this fact upon receiving the news of the birth of her Savior. Wow!

We must purpose to capture all, ALL, negative, ugly, ungodly thoughts and images, taking them captive to Christ.

I'm convinced through my personal faith life of more than 30 years and through the many prayer sessions I lead, that it is possible for the demonic realm to tune into our thoughts. I’m not really sure when and how the Christian church came to the conclusion that the demons can't hear our thoughts, because nowhere in the Word that written. But I’ve had experiences in the past when in my mind thought things and I never spoke a word, yet I partnered with a lie through dark thoughts and the and I gave power to the ugly thought and it became real in my life.

Because our thought-life is critically important, it's not a coincidence that there are numerous scripture verses about our thoughts and mind.

Our thought-life creates atmospheres. They can be dark, gloom, doom, sad, and mad. Or they can create life, hope, love, peace and joy. The Holy Spirit dwells in a person’s heart who thinks upon these things. Let me give you an example. The atmosphere of worship is where the angels play in vibrant colors of green, bright purples, reds, and golds. But a dark atmosphere is shadowy, fearful, nasty, accusatory, angry and the demonic lurks.

Within the telling of the birth of Christ, smack in the middle of Mary’s declaration, I discovered the preeminent importance of our thoughts. It was true over 2,000 years ago and it’s true today. Capturing thoughts to Christ and having the mind of Christ is our daily pursuit.

Dwell upon God. Think about Him. Talk to Him. Talk to Jesus. Dance with the angelic. Live with the Holy Spirit. Ponder and let your thoughts drift toward heaven. Offer Him praise. Blast the worship music. Give Him thanks and think words that echo His character. You can change your atmosphere and those about you. One of my favorite things to do, is to walk into Walmart and change the atmosphere of the store!!

Say what??

It’s so cool!

Once again, the powerful truths that are hidden in the Christmas story are bringing hope, tools and truth to equip the Saints to slay the darkness and release the captives…

…and isn’t that why Jesus was born?

I leave you with the end of the conversation between the angel, Gabriel and Mary.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  

For no word from God will ever fail. —Luke 1:34-37

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

And His Name Shall......

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com I’ve read the Christmas story in the Gospels for years. In fact every January, I begin my Daily Bible with the telling of the birth of Jesus in the book of Matthew. But this year, this beautiful December, I’m reading it with a new hunger and in utter awe. What the Lord is reveling to me is creating a love for this story like I’ve never experience prior to now.

It’s peace. It’s wonder. It’s revelation. It’s JESUS!!! 

Reading the passage in Matthew chapter one, I stopped, transfixed on verse 21.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. — Matthew 1:21 NIV

COME ON!!!  My soul stirs just reading the words. Yet, in my NIV Bible, the paper kind, which if you don’t have a paper Bible. Get one. Read from it every day. Highlight, write in the margins. It’s an entirely different experience with God on paper verses digital. Ya, I promise!

Jesus Greek Joshua Christmas 2018

In my Bible there is a tiny little footnote. I glanced down at some point in a previous year, I had underlined it: Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the LORD saves. The significance was immediate. This is because I’m camped on understanding the name of God in this season of my faith life. I shared some of my recent discovery last week in my Facebook live video.

SUMites, names are extraordinarily important in the Kingdom of God. Now think about this. Why?

Why, does an angel arrive to Zechariah and tell him what name to bestow upon his son? And again, Gabriel arrives with the name of the Savior of the World, Yeshua, to christen Mary and Joseph’s child?

In the Kingdom, names carry mandates, missions, purpose, identity. And these names are gifted of God and are often accompanied by angelic support, power and authority in the Kingdom realm, abilities and spiritual and physical gifts. The name Samson is identified with strength and power. Fearlessness and courage are the spiritual covering of Caleb and Joshua. I’ve also discovered that names are also associated with the demonic, Jezebel, Leviathan, etc.

I will be real here. My husband’s name is Michael. It means: Who is like God. With this kind of mandate upon my husband’s name alone, it’s not a mystery to me that the devil has applied a concerted effort to keep him from fulfilling his Godly purpose on the earth.

Wikipedia: The name Jesus is a modern-day descendant of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which is based on the Semitic root y-š-ʕ (Hebrew: ישע‎), meaning "to deliver; to rescue.

Hallelujah… Our deliverer. Our rescue. And this name is NOT a one and done. This is a day-by-day, minute-by-minute redemption that covers a lifetime on earth. Can I get an AMEN?

I speak the name of Jesus literally hundreds of times a day. I’m not kidding. I speak it in my sleep. I speak the name over situations during the day. I praise His name as I move throughout my day. The name, Jesus, pours from my lips over and over. Just ask Mike. I can’t stop it and I don’t want to.

Because…… at the name of Jesus…… every knee will bow. On the earth and under the earth. ALL THINGS must come under the dominion of Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, ask the Holy Spirit to pour upon you revelation about the name of Jesus. The name of Yahweh, the names of the disciples, the names of your family. There are mandates and missions in waiting, to be discovered, to be released to our world… Let the name Jesus pour from your lips. His name changes marriages, realigns our health, released our children into their legacy, frees us from depression, fear, regret, bitterness, failure and false identity.

Yeshua!!!  JESUS SAVES!

And his name will be the hope of all the world. —Matthew 12:21

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb