365 posts categorized "Love"

THIS MAY STING! Sorry... Ahem, not sorry????

So, ya….. This post may sting. This is an area that I have confronted over and over again throughout my life.

Bitterness

How do we walk through life and handle the disappointments, the let downs, the betrayals without slipping down the slippery slope into the dark abyss of bitterness?

My friends, I’m telling you, this sly root of the dark realm can destroy a life, a home, a marriage, a child, a church,……. A city, how about a nation???

Recently I’ve been reading a book by Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, and I was taken back by this short sentence:

Bitterness is unfulfilled revenge!

Wow, gulp.

ForgiveWoundedness from others, if left to fester in unforgiveness, will sink into dark bitterness. I’ve seen what this looks like in the spirit. It’s a grayish, festering, dead looking part of a person’s soul. Light goes in but doesn’t reflect back. It’s a pit of endless negative thought cycles. It’s leads a soul to where our love grows cold or non-existent.

The cure for bitterness is the love of Jesus. Honestly, we can’t forgive others from within our own strength. Some of us have been through such horrendous things that true forgiveness is impossible outside of the supernatural power and love of Jesus Christ.

I’ll tell you that through all the years of my spiritually mismatched marriage, I could have held a long list of disappointments against my husband. And they may have even been justified. But, unforgiveness is a prison of our own creation. And it’s through unforgiveness that the demonic realm seizes their greatest strongholds in our lives.

What’s fascinating to me is that many Christians think they have done the work of forgiveness but they aren’t truly free. If they were, the persistent ugly thought cycles would diminish and disappear. Now there is no condemnation here. THIS IS A MOMENT to take a pause and consider your thought cycles. Are they lining up with heaven are they:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. —Philippians 4:8

If we find ourselves standing on the event horizon of the black hole of bitterness, we MUST take action immediately. Repent, ask someone to pray with you. Confess your sins to one another ( James 5:16). Find an accountability partner to help you walk into spiritual health. Spend time with a CHRISTIAN counselor. Schedule a prayer session. Ask Jesus if there is any area where unforgiveness, cold-love or bitterness lingers. Lean on His Supernatural strength, love, and power to bring you into freedom.

Bitterness within a marriage is one of the last nails……

Now I’m not just preaching. Gang, I’ve had to live this out in my own life. With that said, it’s not easy but doable. I know it is because I was especially vulnerable to disappointment. But through the blood and love of Jesus Christ, I can forgive ALL offenses and I walk in powerful faith today.

If Jesus will do this for me, He will do it for you as well. And when you couple forgiveness with love, something wonderful lives in you! It’s the spirit of the Lord! Hallelujah! 

So, my friends, pray in the comments a simple prayer to release yourself. Or pray in the comments that your spouse is released, a child, co-workers, boss, etc. These prayers of forgiveness are absolutely the first step toward wholeness in Christ. I will echo each one.

The opposite of bitterness is:

  • magnanimity
  • sweetness
  • contentment
  • delight
  • balminess
  • warmth

Claim one of these attributes and ask the Lord to immediately supply it into your life as an affirmation of your prayer of faith.

I adore you, Lynn!


Wrapping Up Our Series on LOVE

Dear friends, Ann here. Did I learn to love

Today we wrap up our series on love. 

Here in our SUM community there are many different marriages. Some have spouses who are easy to love; others have extremely challenging situations. But in every relationship – easy or hard – love is not easy. Nor is it simple. And even with the easiest marriage a faith difference brings a huge challenge.

Our love challenge is not just about loving our spouse. It can be equally hard to love those who are an extended part of our SUM situation. For example, I’ve been frustrated at times with Christian family members and the church because they don't understand. It's all been one massive exercise in love.

Love is, to me, like the diamond engagement ring on my finger. I hold it up in front of my eyes and examine it from different angles, for there are different facets to it. ‘Love’ looks kind and gentle on the one hand, but if I hold it up again I can see it also involves obedience, which might mean speaking truth or walking forward into a specific call from God (as Tiffany shared). 

Love is also a learning curve with inevitable failures or humbling experiences. As Lynn said, at 3am in the morning it might not go so well. 

And then we know that God is love. So we can take 1 Corinthians 13, hold it up like that diamond and ask ourselves 'What is God like?' Except there are tensions. Love is not easily provoked, and yet we see Jesus was provoked to anger. To delve deep into love, then, involves examining these tensions carefully.

When it comes to my marriage, I often think about the end game. I imagine coming face-to-face with Jesus, and being asked: ‘Did you love your husband well?’ When I think about that question, it’s less relevant to me what my husband is doing than what I am doing. 1 Corinthians 13 is the blueprint. And, I guess I hope the Lord will say this when we review my marriage and family:

‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ (Matthew 25:23, NLT)

There is lots to think about. Personally, I’ve loved hearing from Ian, Tiffany and Lynn with their love insights this month, and have enjoyed writing my bits too. Now, it's time to move on to some new topics on this blog, so I will be back on Wednesday with something different.

My friends, it's been great journeying on you through 1 Corinthians 13. What has spoken to you most in this love series?


When Love Makes You Unpopular

Hi friends, Ann here!
Did I learn to love

As we sit in 1 Corinthians 13, it occurs to me how many facets this little word ‘LOVE’ has. It’s easy to think of love as being kind and patient; it’s easy to think of it as being something like a hug. It is truly that. But there’s another side, and it’s this:

If we love someone, we will put their spiritual health above our own popularity. That is, we'll speak truth when needed.

Now that is hard.

I love to embrace people’s life stories and if someone’s battling dysfunction in their lives I find it easy to be nice to them. That's important, but sometimes we have to speak truth to stop them going around the same mountain any longer.

So, on that happy note, my friends, let me tell you about one of my hardest faith moments, a time when God asked me to do something very unpopular indeed. 

Before I go further, this story involves a particular toy in my house, which you may also have. If that’s the case, ask the Holy Spirit about it for yourself. For now, I'm sharing it as a testimony of love.

It was when my boys were about age 11 and 12. They're gentle little souls and don’t often need a firm hand, so I'm not usually 'strict Mum'. But sometimes we have to change our approach, and I was about to find that out.

The boys had become obsessed by pokemon cards. They had invested their money, hearts and souls into this game. Their social world revolved around it with their friends. They would spend hours with the cards spread out on the floor, enacting battles, and they talked about little else. I thought nothing of it, but one day I began to have a strange conviction: Those cards need to be removed from my house.

I wasn’t sure if this was really God, or my imagination. I went upstairs several times to sit and pore over the cards to figure out what it was. “Is this you, Lord?” I asked.

Honestly, sometimes God doesn’t tell us why, he just asks us to obey. So 'why' was perhaps not the most important question. Anyway, looking at the cards they seemed to be encouraging my children to play-act elements of witchcraft. And the conviction only became stronger and stronger.

One day, I heard a clear phrase in my spirit: “Playing with pokemon is like your children handling poo.”  Yikes. Really, Lord? A few hours later I went upstairs to find a hand-drawn picture of poo on one of the cards. “Why did you draw that?” I asked the boys. They didn’t know.

Another word came: “Ann, it’s like them being upstairs with prostitution. That’s how important it is that you remove it.” In my mind, this thing was becoming crystal clear and it was uncomfortable. I knew how much the boys would hate having these cards taken from them. “Ok, Lord,” I said. “I’ll do it. But they’ll dislike me for it.” To be disliked by my children was -- still is -- the worst thing possible. But who was I going to idolize - My children or God?

I fasted for three days, saying to God, “Show me if this not you. And if it is, help me do it.”

The fast cemented my conviction. And so the day came: I gathered Bryce (whom I had forewarned) and the boys, and we sat on the floor with the Bible. I explained it as far as I could, and said, “I’m really sorry, boys.” Bryce supported me, though he did wonder if I was nuts. On this count he decided to let me take the lead as he didn't know what to think. 

It went down like a sack of cold potatoes. The boys were very unhappy. They still talk about it sometimes: “Mum made us chuck out those cards.” Grr. Eye roll. Mum. Grr.

What else could I do? Sometimes love means being unpopular. I love my children fiercely. What else could I do?

So that is what it means to me to 'not be self-seeking' as per 1 Corinthians 13:5.  In my mind, 'Love doesn't mind being unpopular'.  The comforting thing is, the Holy Spirit guides us as to when it is right for us to step out and speak truth; and if we do that we know that it's a good thing.

Friends, have you ever taken an unpopular step for love? I'd love to hear about it.


Dealing with a Difficult Person

Hi friends, Ann here!

With our coffees at the ready, how about we take a look at this challenging gem today in 1 Corinthians 13:

Did I learn to love

"Love keeps no record of wrongs"

(1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV)

It is a noble thing to not keep record of wrongs. But do any of you have an ‘extremely difficult person’ in your life? How easy is it, really, to not think about the many annoyances or offences? I’m smiling because I suspect we all have one or two such people. Honestly, with a difficult person it's near impossible not to ruminate a little. Or, a lot!

Today I thought I would share a story about a challenging relationship that I've had in my extended family. This is a relationship my husband watches quietly, and he sees me learning to love. Sometimes he even tells me I've done good. Now, at those moments I break into a big smile. Those are the moments he sees my faith and quite likes it.

This particular person in my family has historically rubbed me up the wrong way. And if I'm honest, often I've felt like thumping them. Grrr!!

In the midst of it, the Lord has told me:

“This is an intense battle for you. And it's a love battle. Your job is hit back with the opposite spirit: Love. You can do it!”

This family member and I, we're not together often. But when we are I have to get through it. The conversation is wounding, there’s a clear demonic influence, it comes out in his words and those words have, in past times, left me bruised black and blue.

The Lord extends his comfort to me but he also sees the opportunity for reward if I can get my response right. He says:

“RISE UP daughter, swing your sword, and apply love! For love is your most powerful force, your vehement flame, and your weapon.”

When we have a difficult relationship, sometimes the Lord will show us what's really going on spiritually. In this case he showed me that this relationship is a place where the enemy is using that person's tongue to try to derail me faith-wise. I must fight accordingly (not with the person themselves; 2 Corinthians 10:4); and much of that fight involves God's powerful force: Agape love.

There are many ways to swing the sword of love. After all, 1 Corinthians 13 has many verbs. For a start, blessing is powerful, so when I think of this person I bless them quickly before my mind can rehearse the negative experiences I've had with them (i.e., go over the record of wrongs):

“In Jesus’ name, I bless [name]’s mind; I bless his heart; I bless his finances; I bless his body with physical health; I bless his hands, and his work; I bless his friendships; I bless his marriage. And most of all I bless his relationship with you, Lord.”

However, that's not quite enough to heal the bruises in my heart. Even if I move in swift forgiveness, which I really do try to, it seems that some bruises are so raw that only Jesus can take them away. When a bruise comes to mind, then, I get on my knees and say, “Jesus, this bruise is here. Please heal it.” 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget and then let the person do more of the same. There is certainly a place for protecting ourselves from too much negative conversation; and God doesn’t want us to be a doormat. Still, with family we can’t help but sit at their table and we may have to endure darts. In those cases our job is to say quickly in our minds: “I do forgive you. And I’m not going to keep a record of wrongs.”

I love the recent words of a minister I heard speak. She said: "When it comes to others, I keep short accounts, short accounts." In other words, "I'll forgive instantly, bless quickly, and do my best to move on."

That said, we are a total work-in-progress, right? None of this is easy. At all. We know our weapons, but we need the strength of Jesus Christ. And so, equally, we give ourselves grace for all the ups and downs. Perhaps in time it can even become something of an adventure. Let's hope so.

Friends, do you have a difficult person or two in your life? How do you practice love?


3 am Is Very Telling? Do You Get Me? by Lynn Donovan

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSUM Nation, I have a “real” question.

When you read this passage does you bristle a little?

Do you find it difficult to even begin to understand these words and what they are supposed to look like in real life?

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. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Ann asked me to write about just the second half of verse four. Yikes. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. It is not proud.

You may think to yourself, HA, I’ve got these down. BUT I’ll tell you this. YOUR real core of yourself will show up when you are exhausted, hungry, stressed and lacking in your intimacy with God. THIS is a true measure of what’s deep inside. I still have moments when God shows me how much I have overcome and then there are moments when He reveals where I need a little work.

Ahem, last night at 3 am. I’m not well. Upset tummy and can’t sleep. 3 am my little dog, Grace, starts yipping from her crate in the other room. Grrrrrr, I know that yip. It means Mom, get up and take me out……. For whatever reason…..

I try to ignore it. I can’t. Once a mom, you never sleep soundly again. Double grrrrrr.

I nudge Mike three times, “It’s your turn. Grace is barking.” His response. Him mimics a dead log in the forest. Solid, not moving, sound asleep.

Finally, I throw the covers, slam a few doors, flip on lights, yell at the pups, take them out. Whisper yell some more because Grace wants to chase something by the fence and won’t come in……… It’s so embarrassing… I go back to bed and my husband stirs, ah,,,,,, what,,,, what is happening? As I aggressively flip the lights off.

I wasn’t feeling love. Oh gang, the practice of love is just that, PRACTICE. It’s a life-long journey of surrender, understanding our pressure points and creating an atmosphere where we thrive in love and minimize the strategies of the world to destroy love.

Most of you know that I generally walk in love. I truly love my man, I adore my puppy, Gracie. BUT love isn’t always easy. And I’ll be straight up here. I can’t love without the love of God first. I’m completely incapable of this thing….. love. Love without envy, pride or boasting.

I do believe I’ve arrived at a place where my insecurities are met by an overwhelming love of Christ that I’m able to genuinely celebrate when others are honored and accelerated. Well, most of the time. I’m a work in process.

Pride, envy, boasting and jealousy are really cloaking our deep insecurities. And through Jesus ALL of my pain and insecurities are nearly healed. However, like I said, I’m a work in progress.

And that’s all that matters to God. I’m progressing. I’m reflecting His character in my interactions with those at church, on social media and even in my marriage, except at 3 am when Gracie is barking. *grin*. Honestly, I’ve become really GOOD at apologies. My husband is so gracious when I don’t quite model 1 Corinthians 13. And I offer him the same.

And isn’t that what marriage is all about? It’s living with someone to echo your life. To be a witness, to honor and love you when it’s tough and when it’s really good. I love my husband more today not because of the good days but how he loved me when I was ugly, mean, and less than loving.

I still apply myself to all the measures of 1 Corinthians 13 and through Christ I can do all things and see myself stepping closer all the time. I pray you see yourself ABSOLUTELY THE SAME. Because you are on this path with me. Hallelujah.

Love well. That is our highest and best in this life. It’s the one thing we take with us when we head to our heavenly home.

I love you…. I really love you, Lynn


Clashing Cymbal or Lapping Ocean?

Hi friends, Ann here. Did I learn to love

Today we begin our series on LOVE, and in a moment I have a light-hearted story to share.

But first, speaking of love, I wanted to take a minute to thank you for your loving support after Lynn's announcement this week. This community is pure joy to me and I look forward to us having more good times together. I hope you know you can reach out to any of us on the team, any time. 

I'm also delighted for Lynn that she can work on some new projects after all she has poured into us. I say thank you to her. She's not leaving us, but is simply branching out a little wider. So, we cheer her on and onwards we march!

Now for today's thought: 

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NKJV)

Now, many of us have had practice at 'winning without words' in our home. So we're not usually clanging cymbals. But there was one time where maybe I was, just a bit.

One Saturday morning, shortly after I'd had my 'turning-to-Jesus-life-changing-moment', my husband and I were tucking into a lovely cooked breakfast. In those days I just couldn't help but bring up faith. And so I brought it up, and heartily began to tell him about the changes wrought in me by God. I began to list traits like ‘less anxious’, ‘more at peace’, and so on, which was fine. But somewhere among that, perhaps I mentioned that I was a little bit more humble these days. A little more kind, perhaps. I’m laughing.

“Mm.” he nodded, smiling and rolling his eyes. Here we go again. Then he let out a cough and quietly said into his hand, “Congratulating yourself.”

He was chuckling; but I stopped instantly. Of course I didn't laugh; it was all super sensitive for me. But afterwards, in a quiet moment to myself I did manage a smile. "Point taken," I thought, "Maybe I was congratulating myself a little."

What is it like for others to be on the receiving end of my faith? That is a question I ask often. Because honestly, I’ve sometimes been on the receiving end of another person's beliefs and there's been something cold or unloving about it. It's a lesson.

A clashing cymbal is a hard sound that can’t be listened to for long. I'm not saying I was being the full clashing cymbal that day; I think we learn not to be this way in our marriage. But it is a reminder that if a Christian is self-righteous that’s the sound that hurts our ears and makes us not want to partake of their table. On the other hand, other Christians are like a lapping ocean, a gentler experience. On reflection, I think the ones like that are those who have meditated on the character of Jesus and who focus on Jesus's righteousness more than their own.

I imagine the sound of love to be something like a bird singing, an orchestra playing, a mysterious wind, or a beautiful cello. It is a sound, for sure; it's not quiet. But even if it is a voice speaking unpopular truth, it won't have the self-righteous edge of a metallic, hard cymbal.

On Wednesday, Ian gave a wonderful analogy of Billy Graham, who said that he wanted people to see nothing but the cross of Jesus when they looked at him. That was exactly what was in my head as I thought about this post and my husband's little chuckle at my being 'self-congratulatory'. I suppose in our conversations with others, it can be a great thing when our verbal testimonies do this:

  • Point to the healing power of Jesus
  • Point to the cross of Jesus, and our need for it
  • Point to Jesus as a source of life and abundance
  • Point to Jesus as a real presence

Hmm, I may well practice this a little more. Next time I'm at breakfast with my husband, perhaps?

Nice chatting, friends, and here's a prayer for us today:

Lord guard my tongue, make my voice a sweet sound to others, and let every word that comes out of my mouth honor You. Season my tongue with mercy, justice and humility. Let me always be an ambassador for Love. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

Have you experienced someone who was the opposite of a clashing cymbal? What did that look like?


Let's Talk about Love

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Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hiya! Ian from Springtime Sydney. Yes, we in the Southern Hemisphere are beginning to experience the blooming of flowers, the tweeting of baby birds (and unwanted attacks while walking by overzealous magpies) and longer days.

I was excited to know that Ann is to be leading us over the next month on a series on the great love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. Hands up, how many of us had this read at our weddings? Mine is up. Interestingly, my wife, though not a believer and hence not a reader of the Bible, thought this chapter to be such a wonderful explanation of ultimate love and therefore, was very happy to have it read at our nuptials. To be honest, by that time I was a little over 1 Corinthians 13 having read it and heard it so many times over the years. My heart had become a little cynical towards it.

But no longer. I think it’s an extraordinary passage on both how we are loved by God but also how we can love our spouses and others. Being one for practical demonstrations of love (rather than just words) it’s significant in those 5 verses, four through eight, there are 16 verbs. Love is an action. Yes, words are important but the agape love as demonstrated by Jesus is one of unconditional love or sacrifice. Sacrifice typically requires an act, whether it’s simply choosing to text a friend asking them how they are or the ultimate of laying one’s life down as Jesus did.

Knowledge and Action

I’m a Learner. I’m always looking to learn. I’m curious about many things. Having grown up with a Dad as a Doctor surrounded by medical journals and body part molds, I’m forever enquiring about loved one’s symptoms, side effects, and so. Mum was just in the hospital last week having experienced fluid on the lungs which impacted her breathing. When the cardiologist visited, I asked him all sorts of questions of why this occurred, why does that happen, how does this restore her heart to normal rhythm and so on.

Being a learner can be addictive. So much so that we gain all this knowledge but don’t do anything with it. But very early on in 1 Corinthians 13 we’re warned of the danger of just acquiring knowledge. Look at verse 2:

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (NIV)

So I have to take deliberate and intentional steps, some of which I mentioned in my previous post to ensure I am acting in love each and every day.

We all share the same purpose

For years I struggled to understand my purpose. Why was I here? What did God have me to do? Particularly, after leaving the Corporate world a decade ago I grappled with the ‘well what now’ question. It was only after saturating myself in the Word of God and developing a closer relationship with Him that it all of a sudden became very clear.

And it’s summed up in one simple four letter word: L.O.V.E.

That’s it. For all of us.

The two great commands: Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind and love others as we do ourselves.

That’s what should get us out of bed each day. Simply to love. And it’s in loving we discover the things God would have us do. Maybe it’s to start a new ministry, like our dear friend Dineen did a few years ago. It might be to start a new church. Or it might be to care for our aging parents as I’m increasingly being called to do.

Everything we do is significant when it’s done in love. Whether it’s moving mountains or moving an aging mom from hospital to home. When it’s done in love.

I’m going to stop there. I have more to write but I might leave that for another time.

To finish I thought I’d share something I just read today about something Billy Graham’s Pastor (yes, he had a Pastor who met with him every week for more than 15 years) said when questioned about his prayer requests: “He would ask me to pray that God the Spirit would fill him to the extent that he would be totally hidden behind the cross and people would only see Jesus,” and “His entire life was in pursuit that he would decrease so that Christ would increase.”[1] That’s agape love there and what did the world see: a man possessed by the love of God and loving others so they would also come to know God.

On reading this I too prayed the same prayer and hope it becomes a standard part of my prayer life. It’s in the secret place with God where we discover His love and our prayers should build our faith so we can step out into the day seeking to love those people we encounter.

Grace and peace

 

[1] Nancy Kane, Stages of the Soul: God’s Invitation to Greater Love (Chicago, Moody Publishers, 2019), 107


In My Circumstances Did I Learn to Love?

By Ann Hutchison Did I learn to love

I grinned at my friend, Amy*, as we sat cradling cups of steaming coffee, delighted to be together again after weeks of social distancing. How good it had felt to give her a hug hello an hour earlier. Now, happily reunited, here we sat in a bustling café.

Amy was one of my all-time favorites. Her faith is deep, she makes me crack up laughing, and our coffees often extend into hours. This time was no different. Chat chat chat, we went.

Then it happened. The conversation turned to her church, and she began to share how much she and her husband were enjoying their ‘small group’. Cheerfully, she began to describe the group: A group of couples. Each of the couples was so supportive, deeply connected to God, and yet there were no pretences there, they were very real about their struggles. She went on to describe how much they did together and the meals they had on Saturday nights.

This beautiful friend of mine was sharing with me her blessing. I knew the back story: She and her husband had previously struggled to build a couples social life. Given that, I should have been thrilled for her. But you know what? At the risk of sounding like a terrible person, I'm going to tell you: Something appeared in my heart that wasn’t of God. It was a prickle. A thorn. It bubbled up and I felt myself go Grr.

Envy. From my struggles of attending church alone I’m sorry to say that some unhealed prickles in my heart came to the surface. Uggh.

Envy hit me; and I could have batted it away. But instead I fed it a little. I sat there at that café table and began to feel it: Frustrated with the church social scene -- Well, frustrated with my inability to take part in it.

Oh dear! 

I suspect a few who are reading this can imagine the prickles. As SUMites we struggle to fit. We don’t blend easily with the couples crowd at church, and social events can be no-go zones. But that being what it is, once I got home I realized something from this café-table moment: I realized that I need to learn to be gracious within my own circumstances. I had a friend in front of me and she deserved my cameraderie. 

Importantly, God tells me to LOVE. 

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NKJV).

In fact, God is love. And then, here's the deal: 1 Corinthians 13:4 says "Love does not envy." Love does not envy. I suppose when we envy we are not appreciating our own blessings, and we are failing to rejoice with others.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice." (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Putting this together, then, I have a way forward: The next time my dear friend shares with me her blessing of this small group (which is a blessing), I'm going to do something different: Celebrate it!

This is just one story of my own, but I thought it was a good way of introducing our next series for September. Starting next Friday, the series is going to be called Did I Learn to Love?  and we'll be taking some of the words from 1 Corinthians 13 to chat about what they look like practically in our circumstances: SUM circumstances. 

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV)

In these posts there might be the odd war story or two. After all, SUM living has a lot of material to work with, and it's pretty edgy. Our love challenge is not just about our spouses; it's also about learning to love the church, and others. So, let’s fasten our seatbelts ready for next Friday. Before then, though, Lynn and Ian will be back on Monday and Wednesday.

Which of those words in the passage above (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) is most challenging for you, and why? I'd love to hear a little of your own experiences.

Until next week!

Ann

* Not her real name


Learning to Love

Hello, dear Sumites. Ian from Down Under here. In this challenging year, it’s very easy to hop on the blame bandwagon and start griping about everything and anything. Life as we know it has been turned upside down and really the ‘new normal’ is still so uncertain. What will life be like in 2021, which is less than 6 months away now?

But the world has been here before. Sure, not in of our lifetimes, but in 1917-18 the Spanish flu pandemic was similarly crazy and in some places in the world, churches were shut for over a year. But they didn’t have such a thing as online church that allows us to worship at the top of our voices in our homes.

Who we are

God is love. That is His very essence. Love.

Everything God creates is out of love. And His great mission is one of love. To restore everyone to a love relationship with Him.

We’re made in His image. So that means, love is who we are. Love isn’t something we do. It’s who we are.

Accordingly, our purpose in life is simply to learn to love. Remember the two great love commands: love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And then love others as we love our self. (Matthew 22: 37-39) That’s it.

What Do we Do

Love. It’s a verb (as well as a noun). It’s an action. In these challenging times, we have the opportunity to love. To think love, speak love and do love.

It’s hard, isn’t it. Every morning we wake up and start thinking about our day. And it’s exacerbated in this season when the world’s gone crazy, our house is full of people ALL the time because of restrictions. And whenever we turn on the TV, radio, or internet, there’s some more bad news and/or someone is blaming someone for something. The extent of intolerance of people of different color, race, religion, gender, nationality is unprecedented. And in a season of COVID where mistakes have been made, people have got sick and people have died.

Before we speak, tweet, post, message, act and think, remember who we are. Love.

Agape Love

We’re all familiar with the four different ‘loves’ in the Bible. ‘Agape’ is the one perhaps most commonly used because it was what Jesus was continually demonstrating. Fundamental to its essence is its unconditional, sacrificial, putting someone else ahead of ourselves. Loving expecting nothing in return.

Jesus is ‘agape’ love. We too can learn it because we’re made in His image.

During the month of July we studied a number of SUMite women in the Bible. I’ve been reading the book of Ruth using a wonderful study by an author friend Tessa Afshar. In chapter 1 see this incredible decision by Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Ruth has just lost her husband. Naomi’s second son has also recently died but his widow chooses to follow Naomi’s advice and returns to her home.

Let’s see what Ruth says:

“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17 NIV)

Now remember Ruth is a Moabite, a Gentile. But she has chosen to follow Naomi, join her people and know God. She has surrendered her roots, her beliefs, her tribe, to be with her mother-in-law. Sacrificial. Unconditional.

What about Us

I’m challenged in this season to learn to love. It’s in love, we discover who we are. If the two great love commands are our life’s purpose, then learning to love is the great journey of life.

Yes, let’s get practical.

What’s it look like? Martha and I are list people so here we go. I’ll start it and perhaps we can all share in the comments how we can be learning to love.

1. Start the day praying this prayer in Ephesians 3. Pray it over yourself and pray it for your loved ones and anyone else the Spirit puts on your heart:

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (vv17-19 NIV)

2. Spend time looking at Jesus. I have a small cross by my computer which I continually look at during my day. I’m continually reminded of Jesus’s sacrifice. Let His unconditional love fill us continually during the day. As most of you know I love worship music. The song below is an oldie by one of my favourite worship singers, Christy Nockels, but it’s a beauty for getting focused on Jesus.

3. When your spouse says something hurtful, critical, offensive, don’t bite back. Stop, listen and think how best to respond. You might need to walk away. Try to be polite and come back when you’re ready and seek to engage in positive conversation trying to understand their perspective but also expressing your feelings. Ask questions and use “I feel” sentences.

4. Treat someone with kindness. Smile (might be hard with a mask) or wave to someone. Buy someone a treat. Say something nice. And don’t look to receive anything in return. That’s not the intention. The intention is to be kind.

5. Last month I mentioned the ‘everyone needs a Barnabas’ principle I live by. Every day I make sure I encourage someone with a text, a tweet, a message, a call. I don’t have to even think about it now. After doing it for so many years, it’s become normal for me.

6. Thank your spouse for something they did today. Once again, don’t do it expecting a response. This is what love is. Our hearts grow when we love. It’s one of those supernatural principles of being a spiritual being.

7. Write a letter to a friend.

8. Walk away from any blame bandwagon’s that are so prevalent at the moment. It's very human to think that everything is always someone else’s fault. What’s clear with COVID, we all have to take responsibility in making sure we don’t spread the infection. Wear a mask. If in doubt, wear a mask. Ask before you meet with someone if wearing a mask is appropriate.

I’ll stop there. Be great for us to add to the list in the comments.

May the Lord bless you, may His face shine upon you, be gracious to you and fill you with peace.

 

 


Faith, Hope and Love

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Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What a year 2020 has been so far! Ian from wintry Sydney here. Be assured that those of us who don’t live in America are weeping for the people of that great nation and we continue to cry out to God believing for a wave of peace to sweep across that great land.

As Ann shared on Monday, it was Pentecost Sunday this past weekend. For a few months now many millions from all around the globe have been believing for a shaking, a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and increased boldness amongst believers to share the good news of Jesus. What we do know is that more people have been praying, more people have been attending online church services and more people have been declaring Jesus as their Savior. Hallelujah.

Hope in the Waiting

“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” 

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV)

We are waiters, we Sumites, aren’t we? Most of us have been waiting for our spouses to come to know Jesus for many years. And we’ve seen some wonderful stories amongst the group in recent times of our hope bearing fruit.

For many of us, our families and our friends these past few months and perhaps even in the past few days, dreams have been dashed. I know of friends who’s special (first holiday in a decade) anniversary trips have had to be postponed, another friend told me the other day their hubby lost their job, while the scenes around the world have increased the burden on so many younger people who have real concerns about what the future looks like for them.

Deep Roots

We can draw comfort knowing that Jesus waits with us. He stands alongside us. Yes, we wonder why He doesn’t just fix it, even a little thing, but God has made a world that is self-operating and often it breaks down.

The Bible is full of nature analogies. And they’re important for us to understand. Jesus loved to consider vines, trees, roots, seeds and fruit. God made us to go deep like trees, with our roots continuously reaching through the soil for nutrients that the Spirit gives us and in persisting in faith, hope and love the fruit will naturally come.

“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9 NKJV)

If we continue in faith, hope and love as 1 Corinthians 13 exhorts us to, a touch of the Holy Spirit (nee ‘scent of water’) will produce the fruit and bring refreshment in this difficult season. The examples in the Bible are too numerous to mention and we ourselves can see evidence of fruit and refreshment when we look back at our own lives through other difficult seasons.

But the greatest of these Is Love.

Jesus isn’t simply one who loves, He is love. As Thomas Goodwin says, “Christ is love covered over in flesh.” Incredibly, in having the Holy Spirit within us we too are love covered in flesh. (Say that to yourself: ‘I am love covered in flesh’ Say it again and again and again until you believe it).

It is in these difficult seasons we can choose to grumble or be grateful, be fearful or hopeful, be angry or peaceful, and hate or love. Choose love, even if it’s through gritted teeth. Remember God is mostly interested in what’s in our heart so actions that are not initiated by love kinda don’t really count for a great deal in God’s economy.

The more we choose love, the more it becomes a habit. And the more it will become the way we act, speak and think. Jesus could only act the way He did because of what was in His heart. A heart of love. Just love. So He acted always out of love.

Besides the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2 shares with us the beginnings of the modern church. Our church. It was a church that was multi-cultural, made up of people from different socio-economic levels, men and women, who were united in declaring Jesus as Lord. In love, they wanted to share the news and so they reached out to other groups, not just those they were familiar with, and with faith and hope in their hearts they boldly declared Jesus is alive.

Dear friends, please share in the comments if there are particular needs and/or dreams that you’ve had dashed in these recent times so we as a SUMITE family can gather around you in faith, hope and love interceding for you to the Lord. We are a family spread around the globe united in our waiting and hope for each other’s spouses to come to personally know Jesus.

Keep praying, keep believing, dear friends.


God Will Ask One Question When You Arrive In Heaven

Chapter Fifteen
The Power of Love
Excerpt:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
MATTHEW 22:37-39

I’m of the belief that upon arriving at heaven’s gate, Jesus will look into our eyes and ask a single question, “Did you learn to love?”

Jesus commands us to love God and love people. God is easy. People, not so much.

I’ll be vulnerable here. There are many people that I meet who love easily. They always choose to notice the best in others. It’s not that easy for me. Walking into adulthood, I carried with me beliefs that no one was reliable or trustworthy and that I was utterly on my own. No one had my back. Including God.

Of course, these were lies, but I lived them out as truth for many years. Unwinding these false beliefs required years of God relentlessly loving me until over time, my heart finally cracked open. His love filled me to the point that I could love with authenticity and learn to trust people. Releasing my fears of abandonment and distrust felt as though I removed a giant backpack from my shoulders. And once gone, I became free to dream with God. I was freed up to imagine the impossible and discover gifts and abilities I didn’t know already possessed. And loving people became easier.

My dear warrior, our entire journey upon this planet is a quest to learn to love. Love is an easy word; however, it’s been hijacked, perverted, and applied to numerous ideologies. Our assignment for this life is to love people from the source, our heavenly Father. We can’t fail to get this one right.

Every day we make a thousand choices. With each choice, we walk down one of two paths, love or fear. Oh, let us choose bravely and walk in love.

As I write this book, I’m older now and have walked with Jesus for over 50 years. I’ve reflected on decades of life choices and the consequences of choosing fear over love. From my vantage point, the choice of love is always the best course with a better result than living in a false sense of security that fear perpetuates.

Choosing love is a risk. We risk our heart. We risk pain and rejection. However, living wholeheartedly far and away exceeds the risk.

In every decision where I chose to love over bowing to fear, contributed to my refining process. When I risked loving but I was met by disappointment and pain because love wasn’t returned, Jesus arrived with gold from heaven and filled the cracks of my broken heart. If you could picture my heart today, it is whole, but a closer view reflects tiny golden-white-light lines where the pieces of my brokenness were gathered together. All the heart-pieces rescued back from childhood pain, a divorce, an unexpected move, the loss of what I desired from my marriage.

Our heart is made whole by Christ’s love, redemption, and healing. Our hearts become a beautiful recreation of his design. A recreated heart overflows with empathy, compassion, and depth of understanding as well as a wealth of patience. This is the heart of God.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
EZEKIEL 36:26

Warrior, love heals all trauma. One touch of the Savior’s love and a difficult upbringing, abuse, disappointment, fears, and all failures of the past are redeemed. The Redeemer seals love and peace over our pain which silences the lies of the devil. He is our blessing. He is our peace. He is love.

Everything the enemy has used to hurt and destroy you, God will redeem. And in the Kingdom of God, the evil meant to kill you will become the very thing that God will use within you to rescue and bring healing to others. Your pain becomes your superpower. Your woundedness becomes your peace. Your destruction is the birthplace of a love that the demons cannot touch.

Love redeems our past, establishes our present, is our future and our children’s legacy.

Choose love and live strong.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 CORINTHIANS 13:13

Love Chapter


Marriage Devotion - Patty Tower

Forgiving My Spouse


Patty TowerForgiveness is not just an act we do for someone else, it is more so an act we do for ourselves. Unforgiveness harbors resentment, bitterness, anger, and negativity. When we harbor these emotions, the act of portraying love faints away. Is that what I want for my marriage?

I thought about what forgiving my husband looks like and it’s not me saying to him, “I forgive you.” It means to internally release all my negative emotions regarding the small battles to God.

Maybe in my mind, he’s talking to me in a demeaning tone. And instead of me snapping back, I address it. Whether he wants to fix it or argue about it, I simply…move on. If he replies back, “I wasn’t trying to talk down to you,” and instead of debating, “yes you were.” I respond, “Oh ok.” And move on.

It’s deciding in my heart to forgive him for that quick small moment and pray to God to soften his heart. Forgiveness is in the quick small moments of our everyday.  

Reflection: Think of a common small moment where you can forgive. What was in the moment that made you feel a negative emotion? Ask God to show you how to forgive or whether to address an issue. If it’s forgiveness, write it down and pray God will continue to give you a heart of humility, grace, and mercy towards your husband/wife.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32 

“As he hung on the cross – And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” – Luke 23:24 

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13


The Wonder of Lingering

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Image courtesy of Chaiwat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I arrived at a Prayer Meeting that I was leading and one of the members was already present. This was unusual for him as he typically arrived after the first 30 minutes. But I could sense something in his spirit was bursting. It didn’t take long for my friend to share the experience he’d just come from – an impromptu morning worship time where he had ‘laid all his burdens down’ before the Lord as he lay prostrate on the floor.

I envied his freedom and the heightened experience of lingering with the Lord.

We had time before the others arrived for me to share that I too had experienced something similar at the Writers Conference I attended a month or so back. Both our experiences were stimulated by Spirit-enabled worship. There’s something very special when you’re completely given over to worship, whether in public or at home in your own secret place. It really feels like a touch of heaven, caught up in the arms of your lover. No words need to be uttered; no supernatural miracle of healing or prophecy or word of knowledge or other has to occur (even though they might), just the two of you wrapped in a cocoon of extravagant love.

The deepest level of communication is not communication but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. (Thomas Merton)

God Delights

God wants us to linger. Lingering may seem a waste of time because there is so much to do, isn’t there? But it’s interesting when one looks at those others who have a deeper connection with the Lord, they’ve usually spent lots of time lingering in His presence. It doesn’t have to be with music. As Mother Teresa once said: “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.”

We all know Jesus lingered with the Father. It was a regular habit of his to disappear early in the morning before sunset to simply spend time in the presence of the Father. It served to replenish Jesus, to refill him for the day ahead.

And Joshua. The one who led the Israelites into the Promised Land knew God intimately. That’s why he was given the responsibility. How did Joshua know God so well? Let’s see what Exodus tells us:

“And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood atthe door of the tabernacle, and the Lordtalked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing atthe tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man inhis tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” (Exodus 33:9-11 NKJV)

Joshua stayed behind in the tabernacle. With God.

I’ve probably referred to this verse many times over the years, as it is one of my favorites:

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

 In his shelter in the day of trouble, that’s where you’ll find me,
for he hides me there in his holiness.
He has smuggled me into his secret place,
where I’m kept safe and secure

out of reach from all my enemies.
Triumphant now, I’ll bring him my offerings of praise,
singing and shouting with ecstatic joy! (Psalm 27:4-6 TPT)

Oh my … The Passion Translation just takes it that one step further doesn’t it? David wrote these words; he who learnt to linger with the Lord during the long hours of solitude when the only sounds were the occasional bleats from the many sheep he shepherded for hours on end. It was how he developed a ‘heart after God.’

Busyness

The enemy knows if he can keep us busy and/or surrounded by noise and distraction, he keeps us from lingering with God. So our connection with God tends to be rushed and compromised. We will often ‘hear what we want to hear’ rather than hear what God is telling us. We only have to reflect on a similar situation with our spouses – when we only connect in busy, noisy and distracted seasons, our relationship struggles, we often simply resort to going through the motions and everything is done quickly and without passion. Until one of us breaks.

Why wouldn’t our experience be similar with our Lord? What we do know is He never leaves us and His love is always constant. He won’t break. Only we will. And He is there ready to pick us up, having forgotten about the distance we’ve kept in recent times.

I hope you are able to make some time to linger this week with the lover of you soul. “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” (Psalm 149: 4 NIV)

He really does. He delights in you. Believe it. Enjoy Him.

Grace and peace, dearest friends.


Spiritually Mismatched: Been There, Got the Shirt

Ann here!Sumerfly

On this blog, we’ve been through many an adventure. Well, today, I'd like to share an insight God gave me about some of the purpose. I hope what I share will spur you on.

The insight came in the form of a dream I had in 2016. At the time I was a regular here, as were many others we still see here. Lynn and Dineen were our beloved pastors and we leaned on them heavily. That's how it looked in October 2016. Now for my dream:

I saw the SUMites walking forward as a group, wearing matching red t-shirts.

Lynn was walking in the front and middle, championing the group.

On each SUMite's t-shirt was a white butterfly, above the right breast.

The scene shifted to a room where the SUMites were gathered around a table, making these t-shirts for others.

It might seem flaky to talk about dreams, and some are definitely just our brains being silly; but this one felt different and scripture does attest that God uses dreams to convey mysteries. Well, this dream of the red t-shirts did something for me. I'll share a little now of what that was.

First, the dream showed Lynn championing us alone, which I didn't think much of at the time. However, a year later Dineen was called to exciting new pastures. As it was actually quite hard to wave goodbye to Dineen, this aspect of the dream opened my eyes that it was an OK new season.

Second, the dream showed SUMites in matching t-shirts -- Like the phrase, 'Been there, got the T-shirt'. I don't know about you, but I can certainly say that about this walk. Funnily enough, I found a 2011 video clip of Lynn and Dineen looking into the camera, smiling and saying to their audience: “Whatever you’re going through, know that we’ve been through it and got the shirt!” It makes me smile. A decade on, I believe many of us can say to those on the path behind us: "Whatever you're facing, I've been there". It feels so rewarding when I reach out my hand to another and say that. 

But there’s more. In the dream we are wearing red. To me, that speaks of love all over us. How brightly does the fire of the Lord, forged in hard circumstances, burn on us now? I like to think it's visible. And I can't resist telling you that these red t-shirts of love were even pointed to back in 2007 when Lynn, in an October post, posed the question 'What T-shirt are you wearing?' accompanied by a picture of a woman in a red T-shirt deciding whether her T-shirt would be the T-shirt of love. I hope I'm not jumping about too much here for you as readers, but I thought that was cool. 

As for the white butterfly on our right breast, I believe that represents the spouses carried fiercely on our hearts, in the right place. My love for my husband and my knowledge of his Life in Christ is the badge I wear. In fact, I took a trip through my laptop to find a picture of me in a red shirt for this post; and the one photo I found was this one, here. It stood out to me how much I hold him tight.11 IMG_0293

Finally, the dream showed us making t-shirts for others. I believe this to be a key purpose now. In time we reach the point of helping others clothe themselves with love. I wonder if you're finding this? That you're reaching out your strong hands to people who are just beginning their season of being spiritually mismatched? 

Today, here we are three years on from that dream. After 13 years of posts filled with hope, Lynn's husband got baptized in March. The week of that baptism a huge swarm of butterflies migrated across southern California, where Lynn and Mike live. Likewise, a swarm of transformation blows across us.

Foreseeing this transformation back in 2016, Dineen designed the graphic you see on this post. Called the SUMerfly, it represents the change that this community champions. I love it. I love it all.

So, friends, we are growing love, we are carrying transformation, and eventually we will pass that on!

Now for a question: What experiences are you having of encouraging others?


Could This Be The Answer You've Been Waiting For?

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here!

I have worked for my employer for a little over three years now. I do the same thing all day everyday. Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. I see the same computer screen as I fingerprint the numerous people who come into my office. The other day Holy Spirit alerted me to listen and pay attention to people's reactions to seeing their fingerprints on the computer screen, many of them for the first time:

Wow, that is so cool!

I have never seen this before!

Sorry, I am just amazed by this!

Look at that!

Can you believe that we all have different finger prints? No two prints are the same!?

Was I looking at the same machine? It is cool to see the detail, I guess.....

There are some of us who have forgotten how to be in love with and romanced by our King. Groom help bride up sillouetteWe have been on this journey for a long time.  Our eyes have adjusted to the normalcy of life. We've braced for life's storms for too long that we've gone into self-preservation mode. We have forgotten what is like to have childlike faith. This isn't a rebuke but a call to see things from God's perspective. Be refreshed! Be renewed! Be invigorated again!

I felt a strong impression from our Daddy God to lavish you with love today. If anything today resonates with you, my challenge is for you to take it and meditate on it. Don't allow the familiar to blur your vision of God's great love relationship with you. Don't doubt that you aren't good enough to receive it. Don't think, "He must be talking to someone else..."  This word is for you...yes YOU!

I have loved you, [insert your name here], with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. (Jeremiah 31:3)

I will make you, [insert your name here], my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)

My thoughts of you are countless for you are very precious to Me. (Psalm 139:17)

You can give me all of your worries and cares. They are not meant to be carried by you. I love you so much! (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)

I am for you. You are my beloved and I am yours. (Song of Solomon 6:3)

I will give you everything that you need. You mean that much to me. (Romans 8:31)

There is nothing that can separate you from My love. (Romans 8:38-39)

I will rescue you. I will protect you. You can trust me. When you call on Me I am there. (Psalm 91)

One of my favorite things to do is watch over you as you sleep. (Psalm 3:5)

I will show you my goodness in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

I will never forsake you. I will never cast you off. (Psalm 94:14)

You are my masterpiece. My workmanship. I am so proud of you! (Ephesians 2:10)

You are my special treasure. You are so valuable to me! (Exodus 19:5, 1 Peter 2:9)

There is so much more that I could share. Every word in the Bible is dripping with His sweet love for you.

Beloved, stop striving. Stop trying to meet unattainable expectations of yourself...they're not from Him. Daddy God is so pleased with you. He delights in you so much that He breaks out in song over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I want to wrap up with this song. This is one to sit and soak in the love of your Daddy.

Let's share in the comments - sometimes life gives us a hard beating! What are some things that you do in order to remember the love God has for you? What are some things we can share with one another to fan the flames of our heart and fill us with hope? What keeps you standing firm and grounded in your relationship with Daddy God, Jesus and Holy Spirit?


It's Worth The Waiting! Chronicles of the Donovan Clan

1 Corinthians 13Hello SUMite Nation!

Lynn here. I’m coming to you from my prayer room on a beautiful and somewhat unusually cool July morning here in southern California. It’s peaceful and a breeze is drifting in the front window. Oh, how I wish you were sitting here with me. I long to sit with each of you and listen to your story. I will one day. And it will be GLORY!

I just clicked off the phone after talking to my mother who called to check in on the job search, the book progress but mainly to tell me, I love you.

But as we talked about the book she said, “Lynn, I’ve shared that story with nearly everyone I meet. I tell it over and over.” She’s talking about Mike’s baptism story. “I tell them to NEVER give up praying.”

Never give up praying.

Don’t stop hoping.

Always lean into the impossible.

Twenty-seven years. I won’t look back at the years with longing for what might have been. I look back at the decades and see Jesus in every turn along the journey. I view the Father’s hand of favor and love and I feel the peace of the Holy Spirit as the Trinity lived within.

It was worth the price of waiting.

To all the weary SUMites, who linger in prayer and continue loving Jesus and your unsaved spouse, words from my beloved mother who has lived with the Lord for nearly eighty years, “Don’t give up hope. Don’t stop praying.”

I adore you my friends. Stay tuned because God is brewing up more fantastical stories in the Donovan Clan. I feel the excitement in the air and can’t wait to share all He brings about in our immediate future.

March on Warrior!!!!  WE WIN!!

Hugs, Lynn


Jehovah Perazim - The Lord Who Breaks Through

Hey SUM Family, Tiffany here!

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

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

Dam breaking

 

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

 

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

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

I love the conversation that happens just one verse before:

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

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

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

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

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

Verse 1:

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

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

CHORUS

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

VERSE 2

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

BRIDGE

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

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

Let's pray:

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

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


Hold on Because Your LIFE Depends On It

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Deuteronomy 6:4-9

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

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

 


Chronicles of the Donovan Clan. Clan Update

Royal Crown SUM LogoHello SUMite Nation:

Wow, I missed all of you so much while I was away frantically writing. But guess what? I’ve finished the basic manuscript, Marching Around Jericho, Praying Your Unsaved Spouse Into the Kingdom. Hallelujah.

This is a radical book. It will stretch you and challenge every demon of complacency, doubt and religiosity. This book will place you on your march around the walls of your unsaved spouse’s heart. I’m convinced this is my best work ever. Thank you, Jesus.!!! I promise you this, read it and exercise every tool I share with you and at the end of the journey, your life and marriage will be different, better, changed and holy. God did it for me. He wants to do the same in your life.

God is just that good!!!   AMEN!

So, an update. While I was away, Mike was laid off from his company of 25 years. Ouch. How many of you have been readers here for a long, long time and remember when we went through a layoff 10 years ago in 2009? I wrote extensively about the amazing lessons I gained from that season. I’ll be straight forth here. I felt fearful most of that year during his job search.

Today, I absolutely feel no fear for our future.

Let me ask you this, what is the opposite of fear?

Faith?

Peace?

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. ─ 1 John 4:18

The opposite of fear is LOVE. When we KNOW fully that we are loved by God, fear is defeated and cannot speak to us.

What are you fearing today? In the last several days I’ve been consistently praying two prayers.

Father, I’m asking for a greater revelation of your love.

Father, I’m asking for a greater revelation of grace and how to walk in the pace of grace.

WOWEEEEEE! I received a revelation of God’s love two days ago that blew my mind.

SUMites, if you are fearing anything, Ask the Lord for a greater revelation of His Love. Ask out loud. Ask frequently and believe He will reveal. Don’t’ stop asking until revelation arrives.

It’s powerful.

Today, I’m surrounded by the love of God even in the midst of uncertainty. I know who my Father is and He is rich!  Hallelujah.

Since Mike’s layoff at the end of May, the Lord has impressed upon me; 20 days or June 20th. Join me for the ride and let’s watch our Great King in action. I can’t wait to share with you how God works all this out. Stay tuned.

Another update. I still have hours and hours, weeks and weeks of extensive editing and accumulating the supporting pages of the book. So, I plan to remain here at SUM but perhaps write a little less.

THANK YOU to the team of SUMites who stepped up and covered for me while I was writing.

So, today in the comments, I will stand with you in faith.

Ask God for what is on your heart. I will echo each request with you and let’s watch the Lord in action in your life too.

I’ll see you in the comments my dear SUMites friends. You are loved. You are more powerful than you know. You are gifted and talented and highly favored.

March on Warriors!!  WE WIN!!!

Be blessed, Lynn


Come Away With Me

Come Away With Me, Tiffany Carter, 4/18/2019

Come away with Me
My darling, My bride.
Revealed in the chamber
The secrets I hide.

I long for your presence Hosea
I'll wait here all day.
My love please don't tarry
There's so much to say.

I give you My heart
You hold the key.
All you must do
Is linger with Me.

No need to worry
I'm protecting your heart.
I'm faithful to you
I vow to never depart.

So come now, I'm waiting
Believe Me, it's true.
The treasures of Heaven
Are poured out for you.

The Lord is beckoning us to draw near to Him. I don't know about you but in this season I am in need of some refreshing! Will you answer His invitation?

I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel. - Isaiah 45:3

I love you dear SUM family!


Milestone Made Possible Because Of You

Hey SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

I have some wonderful news to share!

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

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

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

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

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

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


MORE From The Summit...

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here! 

During the leader's meeting on the Friday morning before the conference I said I would share a spoken word piece during the offering time. I didn't have anything prepared at the time of volunteering. In fact I just heard the words come out of my mouth. You know those moments when you realize after the fact that you were pushed into things by the Holy Spirit? Maybe it's just me. It happens quite often. *grin*

The rest of the day seemed to fast forward pretty quickly. Filled with fellowship, food and fun. I was exhausted after the meet and greet at Lynn's house - in a good way - and went to bed shortly after everyone left. Saturday morning I wake up and realize that I didn't take time to prepare a spoken word! Out of desperation I laid flat on my back with my arms outstretched (my body in the shape of a cross) and said, "Holy Spirit, I need You to give me a spoken word for today. I want those who hear it to feel your deep love. I want them to know that they can have a close relationship with You. Give me something."

In that moment of asking Him, I could feel the atmosphere change in the room. It was like He was waiting for the invitation to share what was in the deep recesses of His heart. The following is the spoken word. I have posted it on Facebook so it may be a repeat for some. In my humble opinion, Holy Spirit really delivered!

More, Tiffany Carter, 4/6/19

 

Remember when I first revealed myself to you?

The relief you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

Remember when you heard me speak life into your bones?

The comfort you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

Remember when you received my loving embrace?

The warmth you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

Remember when you needed Me and cried out for help?

The deliverance you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

Remember when you sought me for clarity?

The answers you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

More. Love that is unendable. River w SUM logo

More. Passion that is unshakable.

More. Desire that is unquenchable.

More. Joy that is uncontainable.

More. Intimacy that is unthinkable.

More. Wisdom that is unmatchable.

More. Peace that is uncontrollable.

More. Power that is undeniable.

More. Faith that is unbeatable.

MORE.

 

Remember when you stepped into your destiny and calling?

The freedom you felt?

My beloved child…

Just wait.

There’s MORE.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (TPT) - Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.  Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!

Do you want more? I know that I sure do!

Let's talk in the comments. In these weeks since the conference, what are some things that God has been showing you? How has He shown up in your life personally? In reference to Libby's visions, how have you been feeling the residual affects of the river flowing from the conference? I love you all.


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


God takes our little to produce an abundance

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Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 the other day and was challenged to reflect on it from the eyes of the boy who had the five loaves and two fish. If you wish to read along I used the version in John 6.

I don’t think I’ve really even considered it from his perspective and with the SUMite Gathering this weekend I thought there were some wonderful insights to encourage all of you who will be attending. And especially for those of you who might be nervous or a little apprehensive as is very normal before such an event.

Jesus asked the boy for his loaves and fish. Conceivably the boy could have refused the request. But he didn’t as I suspect Jesus, like he was with every child he met, was kind and considerate in making his request.

The boy as an act of love for both Jesus and all the other people hands over his goodies. He shares what is his to participate in Jesus’ mission: to feed the masses of people.

This boy’s ‘little’ gift produced over-abundance as Jesus got a hold of it and we all know what happens – twelve baskets of leftovers. Amazing.

Parable for our Lives

I was struck by how the boy’s action is a practical demonstration of what Jesus calls us to do. The strongest command in all of the gospels is simply to love.

Let’s go now to the night of the Last Supper in John 13. Jesus is sharing his last meal with the disciples in the Upper Room on the night of Maundy Thursday. A few hours later he would be arrested. Jesus starts the night by washing his friends’ feet and encourages them to do likewise in demonstrating one’s love for others by performing such menial tasks. Soon after, Judas leaves having been ‘found out’ by Jesus as to what he was about to do. Immediately thereafter Jesus states once again that he is leaving and shares with his much loved and very confused friends these words:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34-35 NRSV)

Now back to our boy. Like Jesus, his act of handing over the loaves and fish was an act of love. For Jesus and the community. And Jesus used them to fulfil his mission to feed the community.

God’s in the Multiplication Business

Love is an action. Jesus commands us to love. Very little else, in fact. To love Him and others. If we continue to abide with Him we will come to understand His mission. I suspect the boy knew what Jesus wanted to do with the loaves and fish. It would have been very normal for Jesus to tell the boy when he asked for them: “Would you help me feed all these people by giving me your loaves and fish?”

This weekend some of the SUMite community will come together in one place. Yayyy! What a blessing and an answer to so many of us who’ve prayed about it for a long time. There won’t be 5,000 but a group of people where Jesus will be amongst you fulfilling his mission. Be like the boy and simply respond to Jesus with love for Him, the Sumites who are present, those of us who can’t be there (I’m one of them) and our spouses. 

And believe that your gift (you!) will reap an abundance that will be felt around the globe in all of our homes. Expect the unexpected and step into 'our' community full of faith and boldness.

Blessings for a wonderful couple of days together, may the Lord’s presence be thick and may His Kingdom come over Southern Cali this weekend.

Grace and peace.


When God Asks Questions. Ugh!

Friends,

Today, I'm sharing the Let's TALK LIVE video from Wednesday. It’s vulnerable. It’s real. It’s God’s thoughts about our assignment in a spiritually mismatched marriage.

I love you. March on Warriors!!  Lynn