76 posts categorized "Easter"

It's Okay to Doubt

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Image courtesy of FAVPNG and workablequantit26

Hi Sumites, Ian here.

Another Easter has passed. Ann led us through Holy Week and I thought I’d share some thoughts on one of the stories we read post Jesus’ resurrection.

Thomas and his doubts

When Jesus first appeared to the group of disciples in the Upper Room on Sunday night, Thomas was missing. Why? The Biblical accounts don’t tell us.

In the days following, Thomas catches up with his friends, only to be informed that he missed the return of Jesus. Incredibly, he doesn’t believe them. Why would his friends mislead him? Why doesn’t Thomas trust their words?

Thomas responds with his well-known statement: ““Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24 NIV)

Soon after, the disciples are all assembled in the Upper Room once again. This time, Thomas is with them. Lo and behold, Jesus turns up (not bothering to use the door. Remember, He’s fully divine now!) Jesus knows what’s going on in Thomas’ heart and not wanting him to feel left out, offers Thomas the same opportunity he gave the others the previous night: come and touch my wounds. Tellingly, he encourages Thomas to “stop doubting and believe.”

We’re all like Thomas

Jesus knew Thomas’ doubt. What does he do? Jesus knows what will eliminate that doubt: touching his wounds. Lovingly, Jesus invited Thomas to draw close, touch and believe.

We all struggle with doubt from time to time, don’t we? When will my spouse come to know the Lord? Will they ever come to know the Lord? What happens if they don’t? Why does God appear to be silent when I cry out for help: for peace in my family, for healing of an illness, for an end to this pandemic?

Like Thomas, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had doubts. Once again, Jesus gave them the best answer he could: Himself.

Jesus knows our doubts. He knows every single one of them. And like Thomas, Jesus invites us to experience … Him. Jesus asks us to do something, well, two things: act and believe.

Thomas missed the initial opportunity to stop doubting because he had separated himself from the others. I often do this too. When I’m fearful, or doubting, or simply fed up with the journey, I retreat. I shut myself off. I get lackadaisical with prayer and Bible reading. I stop listening, I allow myself to be easily distracted and stop being present.

Reading the Word, prayer and Christian community are all examples of acting. The reason these are so important are that Jesus is in all of them. He’s present. We’ll find Jesus in the Word, when we pray (and be still to listen) and when we meet with others (“when two or three are gathered”)

May I encourage each one of us to move towards Jesus. He always has open arms, inviting us to step into them, yes, to touch his wounds and simply, experience his presence. 

Which of these three activities: Bible reading, prayer, Christian community do you find most challenging when life becomes difficult? Be wonderful if we could share with each other in the comments below.

Grace and peace, my friends.


Focus on Jesus, And ... Things Bloom!

Dear SUMites, Ann here. Jesus

I hope you enjoyed our little experience of walking together through Easter. I have to say it was a great discipline for me to focus solely on Jesus that week. 

On the topic of 'focusing solely on Jesus', when I first started writing for this blog a few years ago I asked Lynn "What would you say the mission of this ministry is?" Her answer: "Point the SUM community to Jesus."

Obviously, on this blog we write about all sorts of topics around that. We try to revisit practical things like financial giving or church involvement – Things that are surprisingly common challenges for us all. And then the spiritual aspect of a SUM is also a big topic for us – Things like prayer, spiritual warfare, God’s promises and so on. But primarily the key to thriving in any hard circumstance, including a spiritually mismatched marriage, is this: Focus on Jesus.

Early on, when I was really finding it difficult having this gaping faith difference in my marriage, a friend gave me some advice:

“Ann, if you focus on Jesus, Bryce will eventually see the spiritual bloom on your cheek.”

Quite honestly, at the time I felt overwhelmed by that. Only because I was all-round 'overwhelmed' anyway. I guess it was all proving too difficult to follow Jesus when there was so much resistance. I thought if I did move forward towards Jesus any more than I already was doing, my husband might even leave me. It was incorrect thinking, but it was my fear. The whole thing seemed a massive risk, and I wondered if this advice was a little … Too simple, perhaps?

But now I look at that advice and think ‘Yep!’ Spot on. Thank you to that friend. It is simple, and it is the key. Focus on Jesus.

It’s not easy to push forward towards Jesus, but the fruits do come. The joy, the peace, the love, and eventually the power. For what happens is that the more we fill ourselves up with the Spirit of Christ, what we carry becomes far stronger than what is in the world. And that is when testimonies happen!

So now, on the topic of testimonies, I have something curious to share next time I write -- Something that has happened in my home. More on that another day (I'm smiling).

For now, how easy do you find it to 'focus on Jesus' amidst your SUM circumstances? Let’s chat!


Heavy Stones and Dry Bones – A Poem by Charumathi R. Rao  

Heavy Stones and Dry Bones – A Poem by Charumathi R. Rao

 

Stone rolled awayShe walked down the dusty path, very early on that Sunday morn,

A bag of spices in her hands, teary faced and heart forlorn.

She’d seen him stripped and beaten blue, a crown of thorns upon His head,

All He’d said had seemed so true, but then He still did end up dead.

 

A hasty burial did no justice, to a man beloved and so adored;

So, with the spices and some friends, she walked to His tomb, down that road.

A heavy stone they’d rolled across, the tomb to shut and seal it well,

They’d posted guards to add to the loss, just in case some mischief fell.

 

“Now, who shall roll that heavy stone?”, she worried as they walked along;

She knew it was a heavy stone, and they surely needed someone strong.

But when they reached the place she saw, the open tomb, an empty grave,

And in the place of a body dead, the risen Savior she found instead…!

 

A broken seal and scattered guards, the heavy stone was rolled away,

Her tears of sadness turned to gladness, joy in place of utter dismay.

Overwhelmed and hope renewed, ran Mary, to declare that day,

That no heavy stone could hold Him down, not even death could block His way…!

 

And since that day, this hopeful news, remains the same and very true;

That Christ is risen from the dead, and His love our life’s rescue…!

We too can know, as Mary learned, and John and Peter, got to glean,

Nothing can stop, our risen Lord, no matter what, the dreary scene.
 

And so, my friend, what lies upon, your burdened, weary heart today?

What is the tomb you face with fear? What worries now, hold you prey?

What heavy stone, now shuts the tomb? And in the guarded tomb what lays?

Are they crushed hopes? Dreams in repose? Or prayers that are much delayed?

 

What valley do you have to cross? What dusty dry bones do you see?

What grief has held you captive long? What cares and worries do you flee?

What red sea now, stands in your way? Or are you in, a lengthy drought?

What’s that thing, you cannot bring, yourself to hope, once more - about?

 

If He can set the captives free, the blind to see and lame to walk;

If He can calm, the stormy seas, and even cause the mute to talk;

If He can bring the kingdoms down, and sets up kings upon their thrones,

What are heavy stones for Him or a valley full of dry bones?

 

So, whatever be, the tomb you face, shut and sealed, with heavy stones,

And whatever may, your valley be – that’s now filled, with dry bones,

Come - cast your cares, upon the Lord, For He’s alive and oh so well,

He’d fight for you and guard your soul, His victories you, will live to tell.

 

If He fought for, the saints of old, and proved His power, to Ezekiel and Mary,

He’d do much more, for you and me, if we’d seek His will, pray and tarry,

For He is faithful, true, mighty and able; alive and seated on His throne;

So, what are heavy stones for Him or even a valley full of dry bones?


The Story God Writes

Hi friends, Ann here.

As we consider the story of Jesus's last week, we've reached the day after the crucifixion.

And today, I've been thinking about how God is just the best story-teller!   Story

How would the disciples have felt, I wonder, during those long, long hours when Jesus was in the grave? Trauma, no doubt. Confusion, perhaps? Fear, for sure. An inkling of something good to come next, but serious difficulty believing it. If I were in their shoes I'm not sure I'd have been able to believe the good at that point.

Little did they know that every single part of that story they were living out had been pre-planned by God down to the finest detail. Later, that story would be written as part of a wonderful and coherent book. A book that starts with 'Genesis' and ends with 'Revelation'.

When Jesus had told two disciples to go to Bethphage and untie a donkey, for example, it was so that a prophecy in the Old Testament could be fulfilled.

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9, NKJV)

When he told two of them to find him a room to eat the Passover, it was so that he could eat the lamb with them. This was something foreshadowed generations earlier by their Jewish ancestors when the Passover meal was first instituted. And when Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, it had already been prophesied centuries ago (Zechariah 11:12-13).

It was all one exquisitely crafted story. A love story.

Just like those disciples, we -- Jesus's present disciples -- can't really see the story we're part of. God continues to write stories using our lives. These stories turn into testimonies but while we're in the midst of our own personal testimony it's hard to understand what on earth God is doing in our lives. Or to sit through it.

Still, for those disciples something was round the corner. The same is true for our own lives. There will always be a 'something next' that God is doing.

Back tomorrow, friends, on Resurrection Sunday!

 

 

 


Resurrection Weekend

My friends, 

Tomorrow we must bring to our remembrance ALL that was accomplished in three days by our Lord, Jesus, the Christ. Good Friday always leaves me feel somber. And it is good to feel in that way because of what happened to Jesus. 

BUT.... Of for the joy set before him.....

Tomorrow I want to share some little known information about what happened on Friday and about the blood of Jesus. Tune in for a short video and allow yourself to truly apprehend the work of the crucifixion and the Cross of Christ. Hugs, Lynn

Tomb and cross


The Slithering Snakes of Holy Week

We've now got to the middle of Holy Week. Snake

My friends, one thing we see in the Gospels is that those Pharisees were an absolute pain in the backside! No, not just a pain. It's serious. Their rejection of Jesus is really, really bad. Really bad.

Jesus shares pearls of wisdom that final week. His lips drip with honey and treasure. As he reveals parables and mysteries, there is much ground to cover.

His are beautiful, beautiful words of truth. But, the Gospels also report the crowd’s response. As readers we are meant to see that the responses are just as important as Jesus's words. And the Pharisees and Sadducees -- the religious ones -- hold an important lesson for us.

Everything Jesus says, the religious ones attack. He calls them vipers. Snakes. They’re trying to catch him out like cunning weasels. They don’t want truth and they don't want to listen, they just want to win. Yet they are blind and can't see themselves. As a psychologist might say, 'They have no insight into their own condition.'

Jesus asks them a question at one point. It shows how much their own agenda drives them:

" (Jesus asked them) 'The baptism of John - where was it from? From heaven or from men?" And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet." (Matthew 21:25-26, NKJV).

Later in the week, the Bible includes a pointed detail: The night of the crucifixion these snakes hand Jesus over to Pilate, and yet don’t want to soil themselves by going into Pilate’s area because they are about to eat the Passover! (John 18:28). In their minds they are clean and holy.

They have murdered the Passover lamb but believe themselves holy for Passover. “We are holier than thou, Jesus!” they are saying, through their actions. This is scary. They genuinely do not see it.

The point here is that many will reject Jesus. And religious ones can sometimes be as blind as those who are not yet going anywhere near a church. That is a big statement and a whole other conversation. The rejection of the Cross and the Kingdom can take a few different forms in the church (gulp!) But it's an important message from the Gospels.

So, how do we guard our own hearts? We're religious people, after all. In my mind, keep studying the words of Jesus so that we understand his whole message. Continue to seek to understand why we need the cross, and then what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like. Mm.. I quite like that advice (which I just thought up as I typed) so I'm going to take that for myself!

As an aside, I notice that over on Lynn's page there is a series on why we need the cross. I need to catch up but am looking forward to reading that.

For now, do any thoughts come to mind for you as you read this?

Till tomorrow!

Ann


"Through My Pain, Father ..."

Dear friends,

Here on the blog we're travelling through Holy Week in Jerusalem and it's a few more days until the crucifixion. Miracle

Jesus is in emotional agony. He will eventually become so distressed that he will sweat drops of blood. And yet, he submits to its purpose, and says these words:

"Father, Glorify your name."

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."

Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoke to him." (John 12:27-29, NKJV)

Those words -- Father, Glorify Your Name -- are words we can say too. It is not in any way easy being a disciple of Jesus. But in it all, we can say, 'Father, Glorify Your Name'.

It's such a powerful statement, in fact, that I lit candles on Passover night in my home and put the song 'Glorify Your Name', on repeat for the evening. The following is a beautiful rendition of it. As I listened to the song I thought about two things: (1) I imagine Jesus said this all the way to the cross, and (2) I want the Father to Glorify His Name in my life. 

So friends, enjoy this song, and I send you love today.

Ann

 


Monday of Holy Week

It’s Monday of Holy Week in Jerusalem. With just three days to go before the crucifixion, Jesus is walking around Jerusalem ministering to others. In love. Miraculous, amazing Jesus. Jesus walking on water

I cannot imagine the turmoil within his soul as he dug deep to carry out those last ministry tasks, knowing what he would endure next.

At some point this week, he had stood on a hill overlooking the city and cried his eyes out. He had cried, and cried, and cried. He knew that the people of that city had no idea what they were rejecting (Luke 13:34).

He then went into the city with a few final, important things to say. Perhaps he knew his words would be recorded for all mankind in the form of a book -- The Bible. It’s hard to know what exactly he knew.

What did he say in those final days? It's a bit shocking to realize this, but many of his final words were warnings, even condemnations. This week his messages were tough for some to hear. For he is compassion but also righteousness personified. And love doesn't always mean being soft and cuddly. At the end of the day, he wanted as many as possible saved.

He began as soon as he entered Jerusalem, dramatically turning over the tables in the temple, and declaring that the people had made his house 'a den of thieves' (Matthew 21:13).

He then spoke severely to the Jews about how they had rejected their own Savior. And he warned those in the future about how widely His Kingdom will still be rejected (Matthew 22:1-14).

It's true. His Kingdom still is rejected. We don't have to look far to see that.

And yet in amongst it, he healed the sick. In the very temple where he turned over the tables, he turned to the poor quickly.

Finally, he spoke words about what he was about to endure, predicting his death (John 12:27-36). The audience was puzzled. They had no clue. “What is he talking about?” I wonder if at those moments he felt particularly alone. When people scratched their heads at his words, puzzled.

We know a little about that aloneness ourselves. Not that we for one minute compare ourselves to Jesus. But we are co-crucified with Him, I guess, so to a small degree we have just a taste of what he walked. He says:

“Now, my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour.’ “ (John 12:27, NKJV)

Jesus knows this: That he will endure the most torturous pain. All we can do is thank him. And hope that we too can accept our own little purpose on earth in the same love-giving way.

Lord, we thank you with all our hearts.

See you all again tomorrow!

Ann


What Does Hosanna Mean - Passion Week Starts Now!

SUM Passion Week 2021SUM Nation. Lynn Donovan here.

Gang, it’s TRIUMPHANT ENTRY Sunday. Do you know on this day the people of Israel believed their Messiah arrived. AND INDEED HE DID.

This story is very familiar to Christians world-wide, but there is so many nuances and unsaid statements that we completely miss.

Here is one. The disciples and Jesus sat down for a Seder. We call it the last supper. Seder is Hebrew meaning Passover. Did you know that they reclined at the table to eat as a reminder that they were free, not slaves in Egypt. So many, many things have meaning and power.

Did you know there were thousands along a one-mile route into Jerusalem? They were shouting

Hoshea-na. Hosanna.

Hosanna means: SAVE US NOW!

The English spelling of Hoshea-na, means Deliver Us Now. Derived from the Hebrew root as Y’Shua, the Hebrew name of Jesus. The ending -na is something we do not have a translation for in English.

It demands, NOW! Or Please, I pray you. Or Behold!

Literally they were shouting: JESUS NOW!

The palm frond greeting was done on the sixth day of the Feast of Sukkot, welcoming the reigning Messiah to assume the throne in Jerusalem.

Every single person in that crowd knew what was happening and believe in Y’Shua as their Messiah.

_____

Who could use some saving RIGHT NOW?

Hosanna, Our King come NOW! If we don’t cry out the very rock will echo our Savior’s name.


Let’s begin the Passion week with PASSION!

What has Y’shua saved you from and what is He saving you from now? See you in the comments. We have a whole week planned. Meet us here every day. Hugs, Lyn

HE IS RISEN. HE IS RISEN, INDEED!  Hosanna!

Luke 19: 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:

“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”


Holy Week Here at SUM

Hi SUM family, Ann here. 

Lamb of GodThis time of year is ever so special. It’s a time when we lift our eyes collectively to the cross of Jesus.

There’s such value in faith routines, and I know many of you have routines that you follow, year after year. For me, one treasured routine is to follow the events of Holy Week, day by day, across all four Gospels. That is, I read the events of Palm Sunday on Palm Sunday, Monday’s events on Monday, and so on.

It is a bit to keep up with as a busy Mum. But I find I always see something new, and I love comparing the different accounts across Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

In the back of my Bible, there’s a ‘Harmony of the Gospels’, a table showing how the Gospels align with each other. And so I make myself comfy and settle in for more reading than usual. Harmony page final

The Jewish calendar also comes in here, as Passover falls close to the Church's commemoration of Jesus's death and resurrection. This year, Passover evening is this Saturday night, the 27th of March.

The story of Passover in Exodus 12:1-28, where the Israelites killed a lamb and painted the blood on their doorposts, always pointed to Jesus. As John the Baptist cried out,

"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the Sin of the World!" (John 1:29, ESV)

Jesus ate that lamb on the very day he was arrested and crucified -- Passover. I can't imagine how that would have felt: Eating the Passover lamb and knowing that he would be slaughtered in the same way.

Then, we have the Christian liturgy layered on top (Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and so on), showing how the Church has remembered these events for centuries. Together, what a rich picture.

With all that in mind, then, it's Holy Week here at SUM. And we are a church without walls. So, what we're going to do is have a little something each day on this blog, beginning with Palm Sunday. We might have a video or two, or a song. We'll see ... Most importantly, it's an opportunity for us to remember the crucifixion and resurrection all over again, and connect with each other as fellow Christians.

Do you have any routines that help you remember the cross at this time of year?

Love you all loads, and see you next week!

Ann


SUMite Easter Service

SUM Easter Service 2020Hello SUM Nation,

Lynn Donovan here. I wanted to let you know that our Facebook Team and I will be steaming a LIVE service on Easter Sunday. Amanda Pace, Gladys Arias, Libby Finan, Ann Hutchison and Lynn Donovan

April 12, 2020

3 PM Eastern - Noon PM Pacific USA

On the SUM main FB Page ----> SUM FB

And also on the SUM Sisters Group ----> SUM SISTERS (Request Membership)

We will worship together and then the five of us will share short messages and then I will wrap up the service. I want to share what our Good Father is doing in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak. And also tell you what God is revealing to me about what is to unfold in the months that follow our Stay-at-home weeks.

It's bigger than you think!!! Also, we will take communion so have your elements ready. A piece of bread and a grape will work. Any bread and juice. I'm going to explain something about communion that most people don't know. 

Also, have you listened to all the videos and worked through the Field Guides I created on MarchingAroundJericho.com?   Please hop over there and listen in. And if you have, consider supporting the ministry and purchase the next series of videos and Field guides. It all goes to support the ministry. 

Here is what you will learn about in the next series. And I'll tell you the Holy Spirit video is a demonstration of God's power. AND PS. God told me to demonstrate and God showed up. I'm still freaked out and it all happened to me.

  • The Power of Forgiveness
  • Spiritual Authority In Christ Jesus
  • Spiritual Power and Partnering With the Holy Spirit
  • The Power of Our Voice
  • Speaking in Tongues

All the video titles can be viewed here: Marching Around Jericho/ Equipping Warriors


Let the Fragrance of Worship Fill My House

Hi friends, Ann here! Perfume

During this time of incubation in my home, I've been reflecting on what I'm to focus my energy on. I sense it's this simple thing: Lock my eyes onto Jesus. As far as I can, I need to fix my eyes firmly on Him and steadily hold that gaze. This week, with that in mind, I’ve been marinating in small verses from the Gospels.

Today I thought I would share one little Gospel moment: The time when Jesus visited His special friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

The reason that I was drawn to this passage is that Good Friday is in a week’s time, and I noticed that the last thing Jesus did before embarking on that dramatic last week in Jerusalem was pay a visit to His friends. Maybe He just needed some camaraderie. 

“Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. They prepared a supper for Him there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pint of very costly ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.” John 12:1-3

This event followed the resurrection of Lazarus. Having a grateful heart fit to burst, Mary could do nothing else but show her love for Jesus, for ALL He had done.

SUMites, let that be us!

The ointment she broke was a heartfelt act of worship. Worship doesn’t have to involve music, it’s just absolute adoration. It's casting our crowns of glory at His feet, like Mary did with her hair. When we worship Jesus, the fragrance can fill a house.

SUMites, let the fragrance of our worship fill our homes during this time!

To Jesus those girls – Mary and Martha – had many titles. They were His close friends, His collective bride, His daughters, Princesses of the Kingdom of Heaven, Priests (Revelation 1:6), and more. How many titles do we hold in His eyes, and in His name?

Then there's Judas, who stands by sneering, nitpicking Mary for her devotion. We know what his end is to be. Nitpicking another person for their hunger is easy to do, but Jesus says this:

“Leave her alone. She has kept this for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” (v. 7-8).

The poor are a-plenty out there – And today that word 'poor' makes me think of those who don’t know God today in this hard situation. It’s hard to reach those poor at this present moment while we're house-bound. What we do have is an opportunity for time with Him, to focus on His presence within us, in our home, and we can break open the very best of what we own, especially for Him.

SUMites, may you find treasures this coming week as we commemorate His death, burial, and resurrection!


Supernatural Happenings

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Photo supplied courtesy of imagery majestic and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hi! Ian here. Lent began last Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. I’m observing this season once again as I enjoy being intentional about seeking more of God and Lent and Advent seem to help me do that. Yes, I ‘give up’ something (sugar and Instagram this year) as it helps me focus on the wilderness element of the season; Lent, of course, mirroring the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.

But this isn’t a post about Lent rather a sense I’ve had in the past week about stirrings within me that I thought I’d share. Recently, I’ve read a couple of short passages on the supernatural happenings of God. Abraham and Sarah only birthed Isaac through supernatural intervention. Mary and Joseph birthed Jesus only through supernatural intervention. Paul and Barnabas’ ministry work that took the Gospel to the Gentiles is attributed to supernatural means (Acts 14: 27)

And here in SUMite land we read in Ann’s previous post of some of our tribe’s spouses experiencing a revelation of God in being saved. Hallelujah! Yes, salvation requires a supernatural happening as it is not something that will occur in the natural.

How Does This Happen?

If we look at the lives of Abraham and Sarah, Mary and Joseph, Paul and Barnabas, what can we glean?

Deep intimacy with God

They all had their wilderness experiences. God uses these times to clear everything else away so we can be with Him. He wants us to let go of control so He's in charge. Interestingly, in Mary’s experience it was after she was impregnated supernaturally as we really didn’t know about her prior to her angelic encounter.  Similarly, Paul’s wilderness time was after his miraculous Damascus experience. God had to deal with his years of being a Christian terrorist before unleashing him on the Gentile world.

As frustrating and painful being in the wilderness can be, step into it. It’s a clear tactic of God’s to draw people closer to Him, so He can equip them for something more. Such seasons can involve unemployment, illness, relocation, sabbaticals and more.

Remember God wants deep intimacy with each one of us. It’s why He made us. For Himself.

This is why I love Lent because I get excited about being with God. Like one of our kids gets excited when Dad or Mom arrives home from work. Remember those days?

What do I do?

1. Soak in His Word – look at Psalm 1:

“Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.” (v2-3 MSG)

I love that idea of the Word thrilling me? I want it to thrill me everyday. The Word is alive with supernatural wonder desiring to reveal Himself to us. Reflect on Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and how He batted back the temptations Satan put before Him: He used the Word. Don’t just rely on wonderful devotionals where it’s someone else’s interpretation that fills most of the page; read God’s word in the Bible. If you’re not sure where to start, start with the Gospel of John and/or the Psalms. I’ve been reading the Psalms repeatedly for the last three or four years; I just can’t get enough of them.

2. Spend time Adoring God

Talking about the Word thrilling you, there's a lady who helps us bring the Word alive. I’ve mentioned Sara Hagerty’s before. She's been on this “Adoration” journey for over five years now. She provides a monthly one-verse a day adoration prompt. It’s how I’ve started my day for the last five years.

Sara says: “Adoration is finding a pulse behind that Word and then saying that Word back to Him, in our own dialect … it all starts with a simple conversation, a friendship that ends in our destiny: falling in love with God.”

Try it for a few days, a month. Sit and speak the daily verse back to God. Thank Him, praise Him, adore Him using the words in the verse. 

3. Spend time Listening to God

My hunch is that the modern church lacks listening skills. In some ways it goes hand-in-hand with a lack of Bible awareness, we ‘listen’ to the Word when we read it. I discovered recently that the word, obedience, comes from a Latin word which means: “to listen attentively”. My logical brain tells me that if we lack listening skills, we’re lacking in obedience. And what does Jesus tell us is the way we demonstrate our love for Him?

“If you love Me, keep My commands” (John 14:15)

Jesus tells us that the sheep know His voice. But it takes time to learn to discern His voice and that’s why knowing and meditating on the Word is so important.

May I encourage you to use some of the time you wait, perhaps it’s in the school pickup line, at the grocery store, in the medical clinic, etc just to be quiet and invite God into this moment and say hi! And ask him a question or two. He may not answer immediately, especially in the beginning, but over time you’ll be surprised to find how many times He does give you an answer.

Let me stop there.

Believe the supernatural will happen. Think how often Lynn finds balloons on her prayer walks.:) Keep being intentional connecting with God. He wants it more than anything. Believe that deep in your heart. He made each one of us so we would fall in love with Him. I'm praying that we all will develop greater intimacy with the Lord and that He is indeed birthing something in each of us and our spouses that only He can bring to life!

Anyone else observing Lent this year? If yes, what are you doing to be intentional in drawing closer to the Lord? Please share in the comments.


Strange Easter? Chronicles of the Donovan Clan

Mike Lynn Easter 2019Dear SUMites,

I pray your Easter was amazing. And no matter if you sat next to your spouse or not, it mattered a great deal to our Lord that you were present in His House. It touched His heart that you rose to be ready and dressed the kids. It mattered greatly to His heart that you joined the billions around the earth to honor the resurrection and to acclaim what became ours through a new blood covenant.

Friends, I will tell you that my Easter was strange. I attended my church on Saturday evening and was overcome by the presentation and the holiness of Jesus and what He gave to me. And then on Sunday morning, I attended my old church with Mike. It was weird and different and good.

The message at my old church was perfect for Mike. It was designed for people who aren’t churched. Those who don’t know what they don’t even know. And it was weird again to have a discussion with Mike about the service and what he liked, what I liked and what was different.

You see, we are still unequally yoked??? No, I don’t want to say that. Because for the first time sitting in church, I didn’t feel a weird tension. I wasn’t wondering if the message would finally breakthrough. I didn’t speculate if the prayer would be offensive. I actually was at peace. I didn’t care that he may not like the message. These kinds of thoughts used to ruin my church experience in years past when he would attend church with me.

So, we aren’t unequally yoked but we aren’t going to be a couple that instantly travels and preaches the gospel together to the masses. It’s not who Mike is. He will never be “that” kind of Christian. And I’m am so absolutely okay with all of it. I’m okay that Mike is quiet about his faith and doesn’t want to tell a bunch of people and have to explain it all to them.

He is a believer in Jesus Christ. It’s his faith and not mine to control or manipulate.

I think so much of our marriage and unequally yoked journey together wasn’t even about Mike. It was about me. I needed to let go of preconceived ideals and expectations that were never going to be “us.” Mike isn’t one who will grab my hands and say, “Let’s pray about it.” He doesn’t operate that way.

However, I have learned to grab his hand and just start praying. It doesn’t matter if he is ready or not. I keep it short and just speak directly to Jesus. It’s a beautiful model of everyday prayer that he is catching. And he doesn’t even know it. Oh, and by the way, I’ve been dropping faith habits into our relationship for nearly five years now. Slowly a faith statement here. A quick prayer there. A blessing over the dogs. I’ll share a conversation about a miracle while driving to Costco.

These are the everyday moments of a believing wife who lives with Jesus. Our spouses cannot help but be affected by the love we carry.

SUMite brothers and sisters, just be persistent and be patient. Keep learning, remain hungry for more of God and never cease to pray. These are the habits that change a heart and change a world!

So, my friends, may I ask you to extent patience toward me as I now sort out this new but perhaps, not so different, faith walk. I may ramble a bit in my writings. I may PREACH, just because I can’t help myself. I will praise Jesus. And I will love God, my family, and love you OUT LOUD!

Now, what is awesome it this: MY VICTORY AND TESTIMONY IS NOW YOUR VICTORY AND TESTIMONY. In your prayer time, place a demand upon your faith and talk to the Lord about the salvation of your spouse. It’s okay to say to the Lord, “You did this for Lynn and for others recently. I’m contending for the same for my family. Teach me what I need to know to move my faith forward and allow my spouse to catch it. In Jesus name. AMEN”

SUMITES, make your statement of faith today. In the comments, leave your prayer for the Lord: DO IT AGAIN LORD FOR___________________. See you in the comments.

Be blessed, Lynn


Good Friday

John 12: 24-25 Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal. ~The Message

In this passage Jesus is speaking to his disciples and He is speaking to us. He uses a wheat seed as Crosses an example to foretell His death by crucifixion which we remember today, Good Friday. Jesus explains how a solitary seed, which is useless and lifeless, will spring forth in new life once buried in the ground. It, in turn, will produce a great number of seeds.

Christ’s teaching reaches deeper as He calls us to consider what we are holding onto in this life. He asks us to consider what we treasure. Is it something which destroys the soul? Finally, He calls us to love recklessly. He calls us to let go of the world and hold on to life - real life - lived for Jesus.

Jesus died and rose again that we may live, forever, real and eternal. On this day when we reflect on Good Friday and the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus hanging on a cross, let us also remember…

SUNDAY IS COMING!

 

Family Activity:

You will need:

1 small flowerpot for each participant

1 package of radish seeds

Potting soil Prepare each pot by filling ¾ full of potting soil.

Pass out three seeds for each pot. Follow the planting and watering directions on the package of seeds. Seeds are abundant in most stores this time of year. Radish seeds germinate quickly.

Select a family member to read: John 12:24-25

Follow with: Just as this radish seed is dead. Jesus was once dead. He was buried in the earth just like this dead seed. But, after three days he came back to life. It’s kind of like these dead seeds. They will burst from the soil in a short time with new life.

Read the resurrection story: Matthew 28:1-6

God bless you and I pray this Easter will fill you with a profound sense of Christ's vast love! Be Blessed, Lynn


The Glorious Company

Easter 2012On this Monday morning following Easter, I feel as though I want to share a passage that is continually running in my soul right now. It’s the passage that Easter is leading me to comprehend. It is the message from the Holy Spirit to the church in this season.

THIS is our inheritance and expectation as a daughter or son…. Or Bride of the King of Kings.

It’s a complete, full circle, from where we started this journey with the Father asking the Israelite slaves, Will you marry me.

BEHOLD! Our destiny, BRIDE OF THE MOST HIGH GOD.

The Glorious Company

18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. —Hebrews 12:18-24

Hallelujah! AMEN!

SUMites, tell me about your Easter this year. Did your spouse attend church. Did you feel the love of Jesus. Did you pray and give Him thanks. Do you say, YES! I adore you, Lynn


Will You Marry Me?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSUNDAY:

GLORY!!!!

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). —John 20:15-16

SUMites, it’s Easter morning. Hallelujah. I pray your find yourself in worship and that by a miracle of hope your spouse is seated next to you.

My friends, do you find it interesting that Mary did not recognize Jesus in the garden? She spent two years, literally, traveling with Him everywhere. She KNEW Jesus intimately. Why didn’t she know Him in this moment at the open tomb?

It was only upon hearing His voice calling her by name, that the resurrected Christ became apparent unto her.

He was changed. Different. Powerful. Regal. Authoritative. He was transformed.

But His voice of love called her name and she ran to Him.

Beloved on this day that we remember Jesus in His transformed, glorified state, let us determine to become transformed into His likeness. Because He is once again asking His Beloved:

WILL YOU MARRY ME?

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God

    the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult

    and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

    and his Bride has made herself ready;

it was granted her to clothe herself

    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” —Revelation 19: 6-9


FOR THIS He Died

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSaturday:

Dead.

In the Grave.

THIS is what He died for:

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. — John 15:16

He died to give us freedom, just like the Israelites and the people of earth in every generation since then. He died for His bride.

Will you marry me?

 

 

What scripture passage did Jesus die for in your life? Tell me in the comments? I want to give glory to God!


THREE WORDS ... And Everything Changes

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

FRIDAY of the Passion Week: On this day Jesus finds himself swept away to the courts of humankind. A mockery. Completely abandoned by every friend. Betrayed by a demoniac fueled man who regretted his terrible disloyalty of an innocent man. And sentenced: GUILTY by a false court of accusation.

Spat upon. Ridiculed. Tortured.

Every lash was taken without Jesus speaking a word. Why? His surrender was the superpower to our healing. By His stripes we were healed. A lash taken upon His skin bears the name… Cancer. Another blow across his back ripped the flesh from his ribs… Depression. Again…  Fibromyalgia. Again…  Poverty. Another blow… Heart disease. A lash that sends blood spattering on the people around Him, blindness, infirmity, sickness, mental illness and every malady know to mankind.

It turns my stomach to visualize this beating, yet in the same moment, I have experienced significant and ongoing healing because of this moment in time.

Hanging on the Tree. A spectacle, cackled at and scorned by the demonic hordes, Jesus with the sting of vinegar upon his lips, said three of the most powerful words uttered in behalf of all mankind, “IT IS FINISHED.”

Will you marry me? I paid the highest price for your love.

My question to myself and to you SUMite family, Do you believe this?

Read John, chapter 17 today and allow the words of Christ to change you.


The Marriage Supper of The Lamb

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSumite Family,

It’s the strangest thing. This week leading to Easter, the Lord is showing me how the entirety of the Word of God is pointing to THIS marriage. So, for the next few days, may I share with you how I perceive our place as participants, walking in the middle of this proposal?

Each day this week the Lord has been pointing to the invitation He has made since the begging of time. I think I want to pick up His proposal as it was given long ago. Although I believe it began with Adam and Eve, let’s peer into the next GREAT ASKING.

The Israelites find themselves at the foot of Mount Sinai three months from their deliverance from Pharaoh. (Which means King – kingdom of darkness) They are camped and the Lord beacons the people to purify themselves. (Purity, another area of preparation for marriage but I don’t have time to get into that now.) The people came and stood at the foot of the mountain (Exodus 19:17)

AND….. The LORD came down. Whoa!

In Chapter 20 of Exodus, the Lord offers to former slaves, mind you, his marriage covenant.

He came into our world and basically said, “Will you marry me?” So this is how I imagine the Lord’s covenant proposal:

Darling of my heart, have no other gods but love only me. (vs. 3) Don’t go looking for anything on this earth in which to pledge your affections.

Will you marry me?

Don’t choose other lovers, (idols), television, over eating, drinking, comparison, achievement, social media. Don’t linger in deception’s arms, nor lean into the love of Mammon (money and possessions). Cleave unto Me only. I will care for you. (vs. 4)

Will you marry me?

Chose holiness and purity and escape the treachery of sin and iniquity that will pollute not only you but our children up to four generations. Choose me and relish in mercy to a thousand generations. (vs. 5)

Will you marry me?

Darling bride, honor Me by honoring My name that I give to you to bear. Do not swear by My name and always defend the name you bare. It is a name greater than any other name. (vs 7) (Phil 2:8)

Will you marry me?

Be intentional to spend time with me, at least one day a week, to rest in intimacy, to keep our covenant vibrant and holy. (vs 8-11)

Will you marry me?

Give honor to your earthly parents and I will honor them but I will honor you even more. You will live a long life with prosperity in the home I am providing you. (vs 12)

Will you marry me?

Darling, my bride, choose mercy and reject murder of another’s character and life, choose fidelity and never turn to another. My Bride, let your name be whispered on the lips of others that you are a bride of honesty, integrity and when you speak, your truth is as strong as iron. Desire only me and I will give you the desires of your heart. (vs 13-17) (Ps 37:4)

Will you marry me?

_____

SUMites, today is Thursday of the Passion Week. In the Gospels on this day, Jesus lifted the Bread and the Cup, at what is remembered as the Last Supper. But I propose to you today to consider, was this once again the Trinity asking with all they have to offer, lifeblood of God.

Will you marry me?


Marriage Redemption In Real Life This Easter

I received this from Sumite, Becky Walker. It is testimony for all of us. Blessing this week. Love, Lynn

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image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comFor anyone who does not know me or what God has been doing, I want to remind everyone of God's promise to me. I wrote the following in a post around Thanksgiving: 

Years ago, before my husband left (3 years ago), the Lord promised me that my husband would return, not a slave to sin, but a brother in Christ (Philemon 1:15-16). He also promised me that He would give my husband an undivided heart and place His Holy Spirit in him, remove his stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26). I have clung to these promises and claimed these promises, even in the face of opposition, because of the faith He gives me.

On January 19th, exactly a week after the end of our corporate fast, my husband, who had been separated from me for over three years, Charlie, contacted me to ask if we could have dinner as a family. It was totally unexpected since just hours earlier, he had picked up the kids like normal for the weekend. When I read the text, I was amazed and excited. I knew that God had been working but this was just the beginning, and only later would I find out just how much God has been doing behind-the-scenes.

We all had a very nice dinner at a restaurant that used to be one of our favorites and that night he contacted me some more to talk about wanting to go to counseling. What started off as one simple text and request evolved into us going out to dinner as a family about once a week and in a few short weeks, he had moved home. I sought the Lord intensely about this rapid change and the Lord kept reminding me of His promise and that it was unfolding before my very eyes.

Charlie spoke with the married adult pastor at my church, Pastor Berry. When I asked the pastor the following weekend to pray for me to have wisdom regarding my decision about such swift reconciliation, he told me "I've met with Charlie and I could tell that he has a repentant heart."

I actually had asked him to pray that I would not have the fruit of the Spirit if I'm not doing God's will because I know I can't do anything without Him. I didn't want to be deceived by the amount of joy, peace, and love I had that was overflowing onto Charlie and the kids. The pastor told me more than I even expected to hear. I was reminded that the enemy does not give peace, joy, and love; it could only be from the Lord. The Lord has also given me so much love for his son that was conceived through the other relationship. He is 19 months old and his name is Mattis.

I have been witnessing the fruit of the Spirit from Charlie as well and upon meeting our new marriage mentors. I discovered that he said he has accepted Christ as his Savior.

He has since joined a discipleship group, we are going to participate in a 10-week marriage mentoring program, and we are both looking for a bible study group to join together. I know that the Lord is still working, and he's not done yet. When the Lord blessed Job with double the amount he had before, it took time for those children to be born and for the livestock to be amassed but the Lord did it in all in His timing and that is what I am trusting him to do, not only for Charlie and his personal relationship with Jesus but with my family as well.

I am clinging to that promise as well.

We are currently waiting for the divorce to be final so that we can remarry and file for joint custody of his son. The enemy is constantly trying to make me doubt what God has done and is doing, but the Lord has taught me the spiritual disciplines I need to combat the enemy's lies and the spiritual armor I need to stay protected. I am overwhelmed by everything God has done and continues to do. Charlie and I both agree that everything that has happened is worth it because our marriage will be stronger than ever with our foundation in Jesus, and we now have a family of 5. 

I am eternally grateful for everything and I pray that our testimony encourages someone. Do not ever give up on God's promises in your life.

If you have earnestly sought the Lord about His will for your life and He continues to promise you something, no matter how seemingly impossible it is, cling to those promises. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign, in control, and His ways are beyond comprehension. Who are we to doubt His power and His will? My prayer is that all believers would be filled with peace and joy as we trust in Him and that joy would overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit. The enemy will always try to control us but if you are a child of God, you are free from that slavery and you never have to return to your old master again. Jesus gives us peace that surpasses all understanding and joy abundantly;

He is always the One we should turn to. 

With love, Becky

Read Becky's previous post: God's Promise For Marriage

Biography:

My name is Becky Walker. I live in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am a stay-at-home mother of three children; my 8-year-old, Charlie Walker, V and my 6-year-old, Lily, and my soon-to-be stepson, Mattis, who is 19 months old. I teach English to children in China through VIPKID and I’ve never enjoyed a job more. I live in a house that’s owned by our church, another blessing from God. I love spending time with my family and singing praises to God.


Centrality Of Easter

Tomb and crossEaster, the death and resurrection of Christ, is an event that altered the fabric of humanity.

Easter is the centrality of love.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. —John 13:35

As I consider the love in the heart of Christ that He willingly offered Himself to be beaten brutally for me and nailed on a tree. I’m moved with emotion and purpose to love others, to forgive freely, to speak life and not death, to include, to be the hands, feet, and voice of my Father. Christ paid a very high price.

The profound implication of Easter is far greater than most believers set aside time to reconcile. Powerful and life-changing gifts were bestowed upon our generation through the covenant that Jesus sealed for us on the Cross. We are honor bound as benefactors of the spilled blood of Christ, knowing who we are and whose we are, to love well.

What does love look like?

Love is longsuffering.
Love is kind.
Love is humble.
Love is forgiveness.
Love is vulnerability.
Love always places connection with another as the highest goal.
Love is brave communication.
Love removes condemnation and releases honesty.
Love is the wellspring that flows from our heart.
Love is laying down my need to always be right.
Love is giving away my heart with the risk of betrayal.
Love heals, love restores, love triumphs and love is our foundation.
Love is everything good from the Father’s heart.
Love restores a single life and love redeems nations.

This Easter, let us lock arms together because we have something our spouse, our neighborhood, our country and this world is desperate to experience. We are the Beloved of Christ, His ambassadors of love, beginning within, then outward to our family, our communities and to the ends of the earth.

I pray you are deeply touched by the love of Christ this Easter. Lynn Donovan

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 & vs. 13 New International Version (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Easter is the greatest love story ever told. And our SUMite Nation is founded upon the love and grace of Christ Jesus.


Via Dolorosa, Walk With Jesus

Via Dolorosa SUMVia Dolorosa, The Way of Suffering:

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.

For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” —John 17:13-19

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”— John 16:33


He Has Risen.... Just As He Said

Easter 2012_1280

 

 Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20