9 posts categorized "Gifts & Giving"

Financial Giving and Your Unbelieving Spouse

By Ann Hutchison

"How can I give to the church when my spouse disagrees?" This one seems to pop up for most SUMites.Pennies

For me it was an area of challenge in my heart for a good few years. There were so many areas of disagreement already, in relation to faith, that giving ‘our’ money to church was just beyond the realms of possibility. We both had jobs at that time but our money was fully shared psychologically so to force this thing on my husband … Should I?!

Whenever the topic of financial giving was raised at the pulpit, I would sink into my seat, disheartened … It was just another area where I felt I ‘couldn’t do any of the things Christians do’ because my husband wasn't by my side in it.

Occasionally I would sneak some dollar notes into the church money box … But then, was I doing that behind my husband's back, I wondered? Not every husband would feel that, but mine would. He cares about where the pennies go. I figured then, "I have to honor him here too."

It’s hard!

Eventually, many of us work this issue out over time; but wisdom doesn’t always come quickly. Instead, it's a process. Anyway, here’s the process I went on:

I always knew God understood. In fact, I heard the Holy Spirit very clearly say to me once, “Ann, the first time you ever told me you needed me was the first time you tithed.” In other words, "I loved your contrite heart and that was more precious to me as any material thing you could give me."

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and contrite heart – These, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17, NKJV)

So, I do personally believe that when it comes to giving it is very much a case of the spirit of the law rather than the letter. It's a principle where giving comes out of a grateful heart. It's a generosity to God, and he knows we want to.

Later, the Lord gave me a further word: “Ann, like the widow with the mite in the New Testament, I know exactly what the little you give has cost. Further, I will use and multiply that little.”

That story of the widow is in Luke 12:41-44. Indeed, we may have money in the bank, but as SUMites we often do have 'only a little to give', because of our circumstances. It almost becomes the currency of our hearts then: "What little I have, Lord, I give you."

What I concluded from all this was:

  • I did need to give something.
  • It wasn’t so much about the dollar amount, but giving something to church reflected my belief in the Gospel and my investment into it.
  • It would cost courage and risk in terms of asking my husband. That was part of the package.
  • I needed to honor my husband too and show him a spirit of unity towards our marriage.

So, I prepared myself to approach my husband. He was quite against the concept of 'church', so this was no easy task; difficult enough, in fact, that I procrastinated over it. Eventually, however, I came to him and explained: “I know how you feel, but this is important to me. Can we come up with an amount that we both feel ok with?”

He thought for a moment … And then nodded, "Ok.” And so we came up with a weekly amount.

Honestly, it was a little amount. Just like the widow’s mite. Far less than what I would want to give. But, the fact is, it cost me to get there; and so you could say it was a bigger gift, in a way, than if it had been easy. What's more, it was an act of compromise for my husband, and he did it to honor our marriage too. So, there we go: This tiny amount was the currency of the heart.

Speaking of the currency of the heart, I think these words of Psalm 69 are apt:

“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull, which has horns and hooves.

(Psalm 69:29-31, NKJV).

Our approach to giving will change as our SUM and our faith life changes. But now I'd love to hear from you: How do you handle the issue of financial giving as a SUMite?

Nice chatting!

Ann


Representing Jesus to Our Families

By Ann Hutchison Unlock with love

Hi SUMites!

I just had a realization that gave me a giggle. I went onto our Instagram page, scrolled down, and realized that I have put so many pictures of weaponry on there. We have at least two sets of boxing gloves … a sword … a spear … a few videos of me talking about hurling stones at Goliath giants .. And then I have a picture of war-planes scheduled for an upcoming post. The reason I laughed, I suppose, is that I'm not particularly like that in other areas of my life. 

I looked at all that battle imagery and thought to myself, ‘Ann?! What's going on?’ 

Well … It could be the times we’re in and what God has been asking us to focus on. Society's godlessness is ramping up. That calls for us to strengthen ourselves in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). From a personal viewpoint, I've also had to fight so tenaciously for my faith in my marriage that I do feel a bit like a toughened old boot these days. But I also know that to represent God well to others we must hold two things in equal tension: (1) Compassion/mercy on the one hand, and (2) Righteousness/truth on the other. As we learn about these, we sometimes focus on one and sometimes on the other, until we can walk out both things in tandem and represent Jesus well.

Our marriages are a great training ground for that: How to represent the mercy of Jesus, but also stand up for truth. Do you find that as difficult as I do, I wonder?

For months I suppose I've been something like a battle-maiden when it comes to Jesus. I’ve been listening to God about putting away cowardice. I’ve also been engaging more than I used to with the issue of demons. Finally - sadly -- I’ve gone near the realization that some people are truly in rebellion against God, as opposed to, say, being apathetic or on the fence. All of those issues are not ‘meek and mild’ ideas. Rather, they speak to the fact that Jesus often stood up against things and came to destroy the works of the devil, as captured in this scripture:

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 (ESV)

So yes, we've been focusing on battle in this blog lately; but, hey, perhaps we can switch modes now. The fact is, Jesus is so wonderful I want to spend the whole day with him, always! As Lynn said recently, "When you have an encounter of love with God it changes you forever," and it is that experience of Jesus that I want to bring to another person when I represent Christianity -- The kind of delightful experience of Jesus that would unlock their hearts and make them want to fall to their knees. Quote Sep 2

How, how? How do we bring Jesus to others who don't know him? Well, to know our gifts is one great way, so that we can use the strengths God has given us to fulfil his purposes. For example, some of us are great encouragers, others have an interest in praying for healing, others love praying for people. Then we must pursue those things. 

But what about bringing the abundant life to our spouses? That one feels tough because their hearts often seem unready to receive anything we want to say in spiritual terms. What a great topic for us to turn our attention to next, perhaps. I feel a series coming on!

In the meantime, let's chat in the comments -- I would love to hear what you think of any of the above.

Much love,

Ann


Lynn Here. I'm Sorry!

SUMites,

Several of you over the past few weeks have tried to make a donation to the 501(c)3 ministry that supports this ministry. 

The PayPal button malfunctioned and created a donation amount that was not your intention. Yikes and what a pain. I promise this wasn't me.  So SO sorry. eep! I created a new Donation Button and it's now in the sidebar. 

Anyhoo, please accept my apology.

And I truly appreciate every single one of you who gives to keep this ministry going. 

Father, thank you for each person who serves, gives, logs in, who offers their financial support. Bless them today with abundance, provision, increase and their coffers overflowing with your goodness. Bless them to know that I love them and you see every penny they give to further the hope and the Gospel of Jesus Christ! AMEN

Love you, Lynn

Three Keys QR Donation Code


A Fasting Reflection, by Vidya Rodney

Hi SUM family, Ann here!
 
Many of you will know Vidya Rodney, who sends us lovely guest posts for the blog. Today she has shared a little about how the community fast in January went for her. It's a good thing to reflect back on a fast after the event. Once we have recovered, that is! Now, over to Vidya: --
***
 
"This was my very first time fasting no solid foods for a whole week. Vidya
 
I had been looking forward to this corporate fast, as I believe in the power of community. So I made sure to pray weeks before on this. And I knew I needed to be realigned with God.
 
When the fast began, I started to hear lies that I wouldn't be able to do it. However, I started declaring "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).  I kept declaring that when I wanted to eat solid food. My refrigerator was filled with all the delicious foods you can think of, but I was determined to remain steadfast.
 
Anyway, the Lord led me on day two to Isaiah 58:6-7 which tells us all about fasting. You can read chapter 58 for yourself. But see scripture below:
 
“ (6) Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
(7) Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood" (Isaiah 58:6-7)
 
Now look at verse 7. Right away, 'feeding the hungry' stood out to me. So there I was pondering how to do this and, of course, asking the Lord.
 
Now mostly when I do groceries almost every month, I buy extra groceries and give to my local church who sets up blessing bags to give to the homeless. And I did make my husband aware of this, since he is against giving money to church. I am sure many of you face this challenge as well.
 
But after reading that verse, I was led to a Christian friend of mine who has an organization that feeds and finds shelter for the homeless. She posted on Facebook that there was a homeless mom who has four kids and lives in her car. My Christian friend was raising funds to help this mom get put up in a hotel room since she couldn't find shelter, and this mom needed food and other donations until she could get a job.
 
Now my flesh did not want to, but I know the Lord placed it on my heart to give. Apart from that, I also remember Pastor Jenezten Franklin's book on fasting talks about giving to the poor as part of fasting. So I was determined to be obedient.
 
I had some money I had received for Christmas. My Mom and I came together with some cash and I also bought some extra dried goods. I spoke to my husband about the grocery part and he seemed ok with it. So I went ahead.
 
I went into this fasting with a mindset of intentionally hearing from God and that was what he led me to do. I'm thankful that I was able to contribute to this mom who was in need of help. It breaks my heart when people are homeless and I pray in the future I may be able to do more of this.
 
I'm not looking forward to rewards for these acts, but I want to know that when I do meet Jesus, he will say "Well done, faithful servant" and I'm quite sure I'm building my home he has for me in Heaven, as every single thing we do for the Lord is counted. 
 
My friends, this is indeed a very hard season for me, but my hope and trust is in God our Father that he is going to finish what he started in me in Jesus' name (Philippians 1:6). Amen and Hallelujah!
 
I pray this story inspires you all.
 
I am Vidya Rodney. Married to my pre-believing husband Andrew for 10 years. We have a beautiful  5 year old little girl Anya. I live in St Charles, Missouri, and first accepted Jesus in 2011 after losing our only brother to suicide. I have been a lukewarm Christian for years, but now I am stepping out to find out more of what Jesus has for me.

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


A Donovan Clan Update - Thanksgiving 2020

Hi My SUMite Family,

I’m so proud of Ann Hutchison and how she has stepped up to help me with the blogging. She really filled in a space that was desperately needed when Dineen stepped out.

Mike & LynnToday, I feel like it’s time for a Donovan Clan update. The last update was Thanksgiving 2019 when Mike had been unemployed for months and I was so desperate for your financial support to keep this little place on the web alive.

TRULY, if you hadn’t helped the SUM blog and ministries would have closed down. Your great generosity revealed God’s hand in this place. God LOVES our space here. He knows the thousands that visit here need a word of hope for their faith and marriage. I’m so humbled to be part of the voices of hope here at SUM.

Thank you as so many of you donated and many became recurring monthly givers. I lack language to adequately express how your gifts reached people and brought truth and hope to them!!!

The Donovan update is this. Interestingly following Mike’s baptism not much more has changed with regard to his faith journey. I’m still wrangling with this, but the Father has told me to leave it alone. Jesus is working there, and I must pray and believe.

As far as our finances, we aren’t in the same place as we were prior to last year’s unemployment. But when I look at so many who became unemployed this year, I’m so utterly thankful Mike is working. I’m deeply grieved for those who are truly in need.

Yet, I’ll be vulnerable, without you there isn’t enough to pay all the expenses. And trust me I’m absolutely frugal with the funds of this ministry. NOTHING is used but to support the online presence and to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, I’ve prayed a lot about all of this. And decided to participate in Giving Tuesday again this year. But I hope to offer some incentives that I couldn’t offer last year.

Stay tuned because your giving will also be giving back to you!

Elise & Avery & NanaAs far as my family. My son remarried in August. His family is precious, and I love them so much. They are well and prospering in Las Vegas.

My daughter, Caitie, is now 25! SAY WHAT?? How many of you remember her as a little girl? We packed up her LA apartment in September and she moved to Portland. She is very happy there and her apartment is absolutely quaint. She lives in the same building as her BIOLA roommate and her husband. She’s doing well.

Mike and I are empty nesters and loving our life with our crazy and barkety-bark-bark dogs!

I love the many ministries I’m involved in.

My friends, my testimony is your testimony. You can find love, peace, and joy in a marriage that turned out very different than you thought or dreamed.

It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about OUR faith. It’s all about living the truth of the Word of God. We can do all things because of Christ Jesus who is our strength.

Keep marching. Keep believing. Keep coming here and finding encouragement with others on the journey. Your life and faith matter so much in this world.

Know that I truly love you. You are my brothers and sisters with whom I will live forever. And that thought gives me great JOY!

Hugs, Lynn


MIND BLOW - I Freaked OUT!! Ask Mike!

Canaries in fig tree SUMGang,

I opened up the PayPal account yesterday. I literally, LITERALLY, did a double take. The number sitting there was so unbelievable that I couldn’t take it in.

I thought PayPal made a mistake. TRULY. Ask Mike. I freaked out. I cried.

I had to add up the donations with a calculator because I thought something was wrong. IT WAS CORRECT.

I’m freaked out. I didn’t know that all of you loved this home on the web that much.

TRULY… I didn’t know. And the notes that came with the donations….. You’re making me cry AGAIN!!!!

How do I say thank you?? How do I do that? I lack language.

I am utterly humbled and thankful. SUM lives on for another year!!!!

THANK YOU….. THANK YOU….. THANK YOU…..

I’ll be working on individual thank you emails soon. And I’ll be getting the Christmas cards in the mail with a small thank you gift.

I adore you. My dear SUMite Warriors. THE BEST IS YET TO COME. Miracles are ahead in 2020. The Lord Jesus is moving us to greater levels of power and authority, love and grace.

I can’t wait to share more with you… And in a week, I have a story about Mary and the Christmas story you haven’t heard yet. January is crammed full of teaching, activations and Kingdom advancements.

Thank you for giving me your time, your love…. Mostly your heart. I’m eternally thankful. And our Father has heard your name from my lips. Love and hugs, Lynn


SUM and a Donovan Clan Update

Giving_tuesday-2019-550Hi SUM Nation,

It’s time for a Donovan Clan update. And well, it’s difficult to share that my amazing husband is still diligently job searching. It’s interesting that when your older, finding gainful employment becomes more challenging.

Hmmmm. And believe me I’ve done so much praying about all of it. I’m convinced I’ve heard the Lord, but His answer appears so impossible, that I can only cling to faith and remain in peace as I wait for the Lord to bring things into reality. And with transparency I'll tell you that it hasn't always been easy.

However, in the waiting we have exhausted our financial reserves. It’s humbling and vulnerable to share that truth. But, this is our real situation.

For over 13 years Mike’s job supported all of the financial needs for the online ministry. But this year, I’m turning to all of you.

I need you.

So, all I can do is share the expenses and ask you to prayerfully consider adopting one and cover it or a portion of an expense for the ministry?

On Tuesday, #GIVINGTUESDAY would you be prepared to give a recurring gift of $5, $10, $15, $25 or $50 a month. This recurring gift will cover the monthly expense for example the monthly expenses of mailing the post emails, $27.00 or the annual renewal of the web hosting $150.00 On Giving Tuesday Facebook and PayPal are matching contributions.

OR consider a one-time donation to apply to the Domain renewal for spirituallyunequalmarriage.com. That expense is $85. I support about nine web domains for various ministries under the Three Keys Ministries umbrella.

So, here are some of the items that are a must for this ministry to continue. All told, annually all the expenses roughly total $6,000.

RSS Feed

Domain Renewals

Web Hosting (largest expense)

Apps to support graphics

Licensed photos

Third Party supports for web design and apps

Legal Fees Federal/State

Taxes State

Documentation

Bank fees

PayPal fees

Event Insurance

 

Postage

Computer

Wifi

Paper/office supply

 

 

This is not an exhaustive list

 

It is my heart to help others. I know that is your heart also. We want others to discover what we know, Jesus makes the difference in every way and every area of our lives and marriages.

Today ask Jesus, “What could I give? What could I cover this year? How much could I pour in to help someone on the road behind me?

I’ll share more as Giving Tuesday arrives. But you can give now through the PayPal app in the sidebar of the website. And for all of you who already give, Thank you. Your faithfulness has kept the internet a blaze with hope for the spiritually mismatched. 

For those of you who can give… I love you.

For those of you who can’t….. I love you.

Thank you, Jesus as you provide through some of the most amazing believers on the planet. In Jesus name. AMEN

Give generously from your heart not because of guilt. Hugs, Lynn