168 posts categorized "Marriage"

When There is Abuse in a Marriage

Hi SUM family,Abuse

It's Ann here, and today I want to talk about a topic that perhaps needs to be talked about more in the church: Abuse in marriage.

I'll start by talking about our approach to normal marriages, and then will switch tack. So, on the topic of a normal marriage, first this:

Here at SUM we are covenant people, and that very much guides our writing. We love the institution of marriage, and we fight collectively for the wholeness and health of our marriages. So, for that reason you'll see us write a lot here about loving our spouses with gusto.

We also follow the principle that we stay in our marriages, if it is at all possible. That's scriptural guidance in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, and we believe in that. We know that some here are in very difficult marriages, while others are in easier ones. For those in difficult marriages, we know many have felt God has asked them to persevere and those of you in that boat have our respect: It is no light feat.

However, there is a time and place in a marriage where it looks different to just being a 'difficult marriage'. And then we have to reexamine that concept of covenant. If a spouse is being abusive, other spiritual principles apply too.

If you are in a situation where you fear for your physical or emotional safety, or that of your children, if you are being isolated by your spouse and repeatedly controlled, or if your spouse is oppressing you emotionally in a way that is making you feel enslaved, then it is not the case that you need to hold onto your marriage just for the sake of honoring a covenant. It is also not the case that you need to stay in order to enhance your chances of your spouse's salvation. 

There will be other forms of abuse too, besides what I've written above. You know your situation and if something is 'really not right' as opposed to just being 'pretty difficult', do seek help.

What is God's heart here? Well, I'd say God takes oppression and abuse of the vulnerable extremely seriously and does not allow it to go unchecked. We see that repeatedly in scripture (e.g., Isaiah 3:13-15; Exodus 22:21-24). Further, he views the oppression of another person to be an utterly wicked thing (Jeremiah 22:17; Jeremiah 9:9). The wrath of God is no light thing. Meanwhile, his heart is for you, his beloved, and he does not want you in unnecessary bondage.

Arguably, abuse breaks one side of the marriage covenant and then the abuser is like the unbeliever in Paul's words who has left their marriage (1 Corinthians 7:15). God does not expect you to keep turning the other cheek to this, or to try to pray your way into changing the abuser while staying in a scary or crushing situation. 

So, that's our heart too for anyone in an abusive marriage. We love covenant, but we stand against abuse.

There is so much more that could be said about abuse. It is complicated to be in it, and there are many resources written by Christians that are of help. But, all we want to say here is that if any of this is applying to you, then reach out to someone who works with domestic abuse, or a local organization that specializes in this. Keep praying, keep seeking God's voice and his help, and please know that you're always welcome to reach out to us too for prayer or counsel too.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

Much love, 

Ann


The Different Kinds of Spiritually Mismatched Marriage

Ann here! Couple

Over recent years I've really enjoyed finding out about our community, and how different people found themselves in a spiritually mismatched situation. We truly have a vibrant mix among our readership, and you can be sure that if you're feeling alone there is someone else here who is going through the same thing as you!

There are different ways in which people suddenly find themselves 'spiritually mismatched', and I thought it might be interesting to look at those today. After all, everything we learn about spiritually mismatched marriage from each other helps us minister to others who come up behind us on the path.

So, here we go: Broadly, people get into a spiritually mismatched situation usually through one of five ways:

  1. They were a Christian who married an unbeliever.
  2. Their spouse was Christian when they married but then left the faith.
  3. They and their spouse have always been Christians, but one person's growth took off after marrying, or one became lukewarm.
  4. They married someone they thought was Christian, then found out that person wasn't.
  5. They became a Christian after getting married.

Have I missed any? Let me know if your circumstance isn't covered in the above, I'd love to hear it. 

In terms of the prevalence of this among males and females, we all know by now that it is more common for women to be the believers in a spiritually mismatched marriage. But there certainly are men too. In our readership, we do have men as well as women. The men comment less, but we meet them behind the scenes in emails.

There are specific kinds of pain that apply to each of the above cases. For example, if someone has a spouse who is outwardly Christian but behind closed doors it seems they might not be (i.e., nominally Christian but no fruit), that can be particularly lonely. It's impossible to explain to the church without 'outing' the spouse, and then that becomes a question of 'where do I find friendship and support?'

For those who chose to marry an unbeliever, many struggle with guilt and/or regret. They have to work through the question of 'What is God's view of this now?' We'll write a post on that soon.

For those whose spouses leave the faith, there is deep, almost unbearable grief, and they are forced to get used to having a completely new person as their spouse: One who is now welcoming new things into the home (often atheism), and a spouse who is particularly resistant to being persuaded that Jesus is true.

Finally, those who convert after marriage find it extremely difficult to move forward in their new faith. Their spouse is part of their old life, they are now a new creation, and so they must navigate how to build a new life with their spouse, who is often unhappy: A 'new normal' that fits them both.

What an interesting mix of things there. But, there are commonalities that apply to most, if not all, of us who are spiritually mismatched:

  • There is an aloneness in our walk. 
  • We build our relationship with Jesus by ourselves, not with our spouse.
  • We have the responsibility to lead our family spiritually, regardless of our gender.
  • It's difficult for us to connect with the church, and yet we must.
  • The spiritual warfare of our particular situation is intense, and so we are frequently embattled.
  • We must learn to forgive our spouse for their unbelief.
  • We focus deeply on the covenant of marriage.

So all in all, that's our picture. That's our community. And what an adventure to journey together in it. Despite the above challenges, I know that many of us reach the point where we say "I wouldn't change it for the world, because of what it's done for my relationship with Jesus."

In the comments I'd love to hear how you got into a spiritually mismatched marriage - And what challenges does that specifically bring?

Much love to you all,

Ann


The Word - A Sword

By Amanda Pace Sword

Hey there SUMite family! As most of you know this is my first blog post, and I am so excited to be able to share with you all what God puts on my heart! Are you ready? Because I am! Okay, lets dive right in!

As I was preparing for this new venture I sat down at my kitchen table, which tends to be my favorite prayer spot, and asked God what He wanted me to share with you all. And almost immediately I felt Him telling me to discuss the power of words. I know this is something we have covered before. But it has been a while, and this is definitely a subject we need to be refreshed in on a regular basis!

As I was beginning to write I thought it would be about our words, the affect they have, and the power they carry. But when it came down to actually writing God kept bringing to mind this verse, "For the Word of God is LIVING and EFFECTIVE and SHARPER THAN ANY TWO EDGED SWORD, penetrating as far as the separation of soul from spirit, joints and marrow."  Hebrews 4:12 (CSB). As we can see, this verse is about GODS Word and it's power. So because God knows better than I do 😉 I am writing today about the power - the WEAPON that is the Word of God. I felt especially pulled to that description of a double-edged sword. So lets dive a bit deeper into that!

What is a double-edged Sword?
A double-edged sword is, in a word, a weapon. A very powerful weapon, one that can cut from either side of the blade. When we open and USE the Word of God, speaking it out, reading it, declaring it, teaching it to our children etc. We are wielding a weapon! The mighty and powerful Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)

What does a sword do?
First, it protects! I don't know about you, but whenever I imagine angels guarding myself and my children, I always picture them with swords. Swords, in my mind, are symbols of protection. How can we wield this weapon for protection? One way is by praying the WORD over our homes and families. Pray the Lords prayer with fresh eyes and an open heart to really hear the words you're saying, Psalm 23 is a favorite of ours right now to pray before bed. The Word is FULL of protection verses! Use them!

The next thing this double-edged sword does is defends! Use the Sword of the Spirit to defend your home from attacks of the enemy! Remember, this sword cuts from both sides, so you can attack and defend forwards and backwards! 😉 So, knowing this, march around your house declaring Gods promises, "All your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be their peace" Isaiah 54:13 (NIV)! Lay hands on your electronics and screens and rebuke temptations and addictions, anoint your home while speaking Gods blessings out loud over every room! Put on your armor every day and teach your children to do the same. Pray over your spouse while they sleep! In the past, I have seen breakthrough when I pray Ezekiel 36:26 over my husband, "I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (CSB)

Finally, a sword deflects. Use the Word to deflect the lies spoken about you and your family. Remind yourself of His promises whenever the enemy comes knockin'. Whenever someone mentions how alcoholism runs in your family, that you are likely to get cancer, that depression is genetic, or you will never cure your anxiety ect. Even the lies your own mind tries to tell you, like you're a failure, you'll never be good enough, you can't do such and such. Knock those words back to the pit of hell where they belong with that Sword! Open that bible and FIGHT BACK!

My dear SUMites, realize when you hold, and read, and speak the Word of God you are wielding a WEAPON! That Bible you hold, it is not some flimsy piece of leather with bits of thin paper wound up in it - oh no! That Bible is MIGHTY, it is a source of TERROR to the enemy, it strikes fear into them and drives them out! We are NOT helpless my SUMite family! We are NOT alone! And we most certainly ARE NOT DEFEATED! Hold up your swords, shout a battle cry (in your heart, or out loud! 😁), and fight for your family! 

What are some practical ways you all fight for your family with the Word of God? I would love to read them in the comments!


The Unbelieving Spouse's Perspective

By Ann Hutchison Husband wife chat

"Can I ask you something..?" I said to Bryce a few weekends ago at the breakfast table.

He gave one of those smiles where he could see a wifely deep-and-meaningful talk coming. In true male style he braced himself. "Go on then." 

I took a deep breath:

"You really didn't like my faith a few years ago. And now you don't mind it. What made you change your mind?"

He thought for a minute.

"Well .... Over time, you showed me you still loved me. Even though I wasn't Christian."

That was interesting. See, I wasn't sure how good a job I'd done at this. I mean it's hard being married, and it's hard being spiritually mismatched. But clearly something had worked there and had made an impact on him. What an encouragement!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9, NIV)

We continued talking, and what he said next was somewhat harder to hear. 

"Look, when you became Christian, all of a sudden that was the only thing that was shiny to you. Everything and everyone else stopped being so interesting to you. Including me. It was hard."

Ouch.

But, if that was his experience I needed to listen. Did he have a point? I think he did. The things in the world do grow strangely dim when we find out that Jesus is real. And God is shiny. He is glorious, he radiates love, and he is immensely attractive. It's understandable to find God the most interesting one in your life. He is matchless. But it shouldn't mean you stop cherishing your spouse.

... and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear] (Ephesians 5:33, Amplified)

These days I know I do better at this, thanks in big part to this community and all the conversations we've had here about thriving in a spiritually mismatched marriage. I think that was confirmed by Bryce's final comment --

"Now you're more low key about it. You're not so obsessed any more. I suppose God is your top thing still, but you handle it better."

He smiled at this. Clearly the topic was not too painful anymore.

I smiled too, inside. I am just as fervent now as I was then. I guess I just carry it a little differently now.

I reached out my hand to him. "It's definitely hard being different like this, isn't it?" He nodded completely in agreement. And then we changed the subject.

Phew. My friends, I don't find it easy having those conversations and I know it's the same for many of you. It's often sensitive to raise. But on that occasion I'm glad I asked. For one thing, I'm going to see what I can do to make my husband feel more 'shiny' ((smiling)).

Have you ever asked your spouse what their experience of your faith is? Or, what do you think they'd say?

Lovely chatting and have a great weekend,

Ann


Need Godly Counsel for Your Marriage? THIS IS IT!

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General Conference Information: The Thrive Christian Marriage Conference is a 4-day LIVE online conference happening February 15-18, 2022 featuring 25 professional Christian counselors, bestselling authors, speakers, bloggers, and more.

Thrive Marriage Conference - FB (3)

The statistics are sobering....

  • An estimated 4 out of 10 U.S. adults are currently struggling with anxiety or depression (Source).
  • Divorce rates are up 34% since the start of the pandemic (Source).
  • More than 20% of U.S. adults are currently taking medication or are in counseling for mental health concerns. (Source)​

So whether you're dealing with job loss, the loss of a loved one, strained relationships, mental health issues, or any number of issues the recent pandemic has caused...

It's definitely not just you. These last couple of years have been tough on us all.

That's why, at this year's Thrive Christian Marriage Conference, we're bringing in 25 licensed counselors, bestselling authors, professional speakers (and more) to share their best advice on:

  • How to talk so your spouse will listen
  • How to turn your greatest differences into your greatest strengths
  • What to do if your partner has an affair, watches pornography, or wants a divorce
  • How to know when to get help (what's normal and what's not)
  • How to keep the romance alive - no matter how long you've been married
  • and much, much more.

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Speaker Pannel:

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I Need A Prayer

Post A PrayerHi Friends, Lynn Donovan here:

I'm coming to you today in the midst of a very busy season and yet hopeful you will take five minutes to step along side of me and especially my husband, Mike. 

I would love to receive a short, one-to-two paragraph prayer, for healing. I want to pass these short prayers to Mike, one a day, throughout his treatment with begins December 13. Read About it here.

Please take a minute to login here and post in the comments, a SHORT prayer, from your heart, that Mike could pray to build his faith for healing. 

I am absolutely leaning on you and your love during this season. 

I love you. I feel surrounded by your goodness, your love and your faith. Hugging you with a full heart today, Love, Lynn


Let's Go to the Rock

Dear friends, Ann here. Rock 1

Today I just wanted to post a short-n-sweet thought.

Both Ian and I wrote last week about those moments in marriage where our partner finds our faith all too much. And we chatted about how our natural response might be to withdraw a little from Jesus to ease the comfort of our partner. But, as we discussed, the real solution is to push into Jesus.

Even if it feels risky.

We still honor and devote time to our partner. But we push into Jesus.

Those who commented last week agreed; and we all said it takes some time to learn that Jesus is actually the solution here. If we keep on prioritizing him, he will bring surprising things into our marriage; and will ease the situation somehow.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

In that discussion one of our SUMites, Susan, shared in the comments a song that captures this idea perfectly. It's I Go to the Rock by Helen Shapiro, and it's so spot-on for us it could be our anthem for the moment. We, the SUM community, push into the Rock! So, on that upbeat note I'll leave you with the song. Thank you, Susan, for sharing it -- And let's keep going to the Rock!

 


Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

“This isn’t what I married.” Said Bryce. “And there may come a point where I say to you enough is enough.” Rock hard place

He stood by the chest of drawers suddenly seeming distant. I sat on the bed. My heart was pounding with fear.

“Don’t you ever say to me you can’t give it up if I ask you to.”

He was talking about my church involvement. And possibly also my faith. Gulp.

One request had led to this conversation: I had told him I'd like to go to a ‘small group’ at church one evening a week. It was 2017, and I thought he was used to my faith and my church-going. But I had misread how he truly felt. As I can now see, a small group/home group is weird to someone not versed in church ways.

I was helpless and heartbroken. Helpless as to what to do; heartbroken at the fracture between us. I could not change my beliefs if he asked me to. I could change some of my behavior, but my beliefs? 

Over the next few days I scraped myself around the house, miserable. The burning in my bones wouldn’t go away. The experience of God had been too tangible for me to turn any other way except towards Him.

My friends, I'm guessing you've likely had one of these 'fracture-filled' moments at some point in your SUM? Some of us have an easier ride than others on this one, depending on how much our spouse disagrees with our faith and how much they verbalize it to us. When a spouse does verbalize displeasure at our faith it is memorably difficult and upsetting. It always calls for us to go away, think about what we can compromise on, and on what we just can't. 

Things are easier now between Bryce and me, but that day in 2017 I remember thinking to myself (crying) "I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, the rock being Jesus and the hard place being my husband!"

What on earth do you do when you feel stuck in an impasse like this?

Well, apart from having a little cry, which is thoroughly cathartic, I'd say the most helpful thing we can do is turn our face directly towards the rock-face that is Jesus. The rock-face that our spouse is even against. There is a rock on one side, a hard place on the other. Turn our face directly towards the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). It has to be that way. Give some time to Jesus, go for a walk, say to Jesus 'Please minister to me in my pain,' and determine that you will keep on being a Christian.

Dear friends, if we do that (turn deliberately to Jesus), He will come through for us and change something in this situation, even if it is simply to give us strength.

Love for Jesus includes love for our spouse, so then we ask Jesus: "What does loving God but loving my spouse look like in this particular circumstance?"

I suppose the words 'rock and a hard place' aren't entirely unscriptural. After all there is a verse that says that Jesus is the rock that the builders rejected, and yet that rock became the cornerstone of the church (Acts 4:11). He is also the living stone rejected by men (1 Peter 2:4). I guess, then, if we are feeling we're in between a rock and a hard place with our Rock, Christ, being rejected by our other half, we're simply living out a scriptural truth!

The good news is, this particular story about my husband, me, and church has a rather amazing ending. God moved in a way that made my eyes widen with surprise. I will share that story next time I write.

For now, do you feel you're in between a rock and a hard place at the moment? If so, feel free to share in the comments and I'd love to pray for you.

With love,

Ann


Marriage Challenges in the Time of Lockdown

Ann here!
SIlly avocado

I remember a while ago I did a video on how married love is not easy. We promise to take another person to have, to hold, to love, and then to compromise with for the rest of our lives! 

Well, over the last few weeks here in New Zealand we've been in a strict lockdown, and at several points I have thought to myself, "Yikes, this lockdown is not good for our marriage!" 

Bryce and I have a particular 'challenging difference' that has recurred regularly since the day we married. It's this: He is extremely practical on matters of how to do things around the house (e.g., load the dishwasher) and I am extremely not. He cannot help but find the way I do things infuriating; but I cannot change the fact I am naturally slapdash. He gives me ongoing pointers, then I get irritated. We've been at this 22 years now, and it sometimes affects our ability to live together enjoyably. 

This is normally manageable -- I mean, it comes up once every six weeks and we have a moment. But usually we try to adapt. That was until lockdown put us into a confined space together, day in, day out. 

A few days ago, I was scooping out some avocado. It was weeks into the lockdown and I was feeling slightly 'frayed'. Bryce was sitting behind me cheerfully, and out came a pleasant comment: "You know you should be using a spoon to do that instead of a knife? It's far more efficient." Well, that was it. I put the avocado and knife down and ... walked out of the room. All I could think was ... "I need to escape this lockdown and go to Spain. Or be in a darkened room by myself for twelve hours."

I don't know why I thought of Spain, it does sound nice! But the fact is we're stuck in this situation. Further, like that avocado, marriage is a whole, not two halves. And he is my other half. So, lockdown or not, I need to do my best here. 

I read a sweet book on marriage last week by Christian worship artists Jeremy and Adrienne Camp who have all this same stuff. Disagreements, differences. I like reading about marriages with two Christians because I realize those marriages are still full of challenges. Two fleshly, broken humans come together, then have to work it out. Anyway, these two, Jeremy and Adrienne, have a sweet story as she is his second wife after he was widowed. They are heartfelt lovers of God and had put together a book on marriage. Not because they're experts. Rather, because they had a platform and the topic is important. In that book was a little set of questions for our spouse we could ask ... See what you think: In unison

Questions for our spouse

  • What might contribute to your 'getting up on the wrong side of the bed'?
  • What's one thing you wish I'd do more often?
  • What's one thing you wish I'd stop doing?
  • What does a relaxing day spent with me look like to you?
  • When and where do you feel the most peaceful?
  • Do you need more or less 'alone time'?
  • Is there anything you've missed doing since we got married?
  • Is there anything new you wish we would do together?

I liked these. And so I think next time we/I have a silly-avocado moment, I might pull one or two of these questions out, go hang out with my husband, and see if we can find ways of getting through this challenging time in good shape.

Marriage is a funny thing ... Has the pandemic brought challenges to your relationship with your spouse? Looking forward to chatting in the comments!


An Unusual Prayer

Happy Monday, SUM family!  Last week on our Facebook page I did a video about an evangelist's wife who once prayed this prayer: Help me love my husband more, but help me be less 'in love' with him!

Is that a good prayer to pray? Well, take a listen to this video about her story, see what you think, and perhaps we'll chat in the comments!

 


SUM on Radio Rhema, New Zealand

Hi friends, Ann here. Ann Rhema 2

This week I did something fun: I went on the radio here in New Zealand to talk about 'How to continue to be strong in your faith when your husband or wife is not a believer.'

New Zealand, where I live, only has 4 million people, but nevertheless there are a good few SUMites who live here. Of course, most of you live in the USA, UK, South Africa, and Australia, along with other parts of the world. Isn't it just amazing how we can congregate online, despite our diversity!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this 'Kiwi' chat at Radio Rhema, with Diane Campbell who's pictured here. You can have a listen by clicking on the link below: 

https://www.rhema.co.nz/shows/show/article/spirituallyunequalmarriage

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Ann


Reflections on Attending Church Alone

Dear friends, Ann here!Church alone

Today I want to chat about one of our topics that is an old favorite: Attending church alone. I type this with a smile, but it's a wry smile. Whether or not we've got into a routine, I think most of us would say that Church-plus-SUM is super tricky!

I shared recently that my little church closed in March. It had about 60 people, and we loved each other. But, just before Christmas two things happened: The numbers plummeted and the pastor and wife lost their vision for it. Not for pastoring, just for that place. It was as if they couldn’t help but let go.

Gulp!

It seemed God was closing a season for us all, so the pastor bravely announced “We are closing. We are so sorry … But now let's transition well.” And he cried his way through the message. What happened in the weeks since, however, is that each family went somewhere different and new things blossomed.

My Dad who is a Christian gave me a word at the time: “Whatever your reasons for joining that church initially, those reasons have now been satisfied. Allow God to do something new.”

And so I am. Happily. But I'm also reflecting on what God took me through in those six years. Because they were pretty impactful.

The day I walked through those church doors -- Well, a converted underground carpark -- I was hugged, welcomed, and felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Oh, it was wonderful, and of course I couldn’t wait to go each Sunday. But, as you know, with a less enthusiastic spouse it's not so simple: 

“Don’t tell me you can’t give it up if I ask you to!” Bryce said to me months later, fearing my absence. I guess he could see my attachment to it, and in his mind I was on my way to becoming a cult-following weirdo. Because of that comment, I became fearful myself. Fearful of what it would do to us. My attendance became sporadic and I miserably stayed home on a Sunday. Often.

“Are you alright?” My pastor asked me one day when I reappeared after about eight weeks. I whimpered back: “I just miss my husband so much …” Tears. And more tears.

He didn't say much. He just looked at me with sympathy. Bryce was the gaping, invisible hole next to me. Crap (can I say that?), this thing was hard. It was hard enough that it's making me cry to type this. That tells me how hard it was.

Time passed and I began to grow a desire to serve. “I’ve offered to go early and help on the door today ..” I said in a deliberately light-hearted voice to Bryce one Sunday. “Seriously?” He raised his eyebrows. “Why do Christians have to do that? Hellooo.” (He mimicked the sing-song voice of a Christian door-greeter, possibly teasing, but possibly not!) Maybe you can smile to read that because you know how this thing goes. But I tell you, my sense of humor had checked out. I was so sensitive to being mocked for my faith by that point, I was over it.

That was five years ago. But somehow, somewhere along the way, I began to laugh a little again. And somewhere along the way Bryce became ok with it all. Quite honestly, nothing could keep me from church anyway.

I served in different areas, but sometimes I stepped back. Sometimes I'd say, “I’m sorry – I just can’t … I have to balance it with my family.” Other times I'd say: "This I can do, yes." I followed the Holy Spirit on this one. "Yes? Or no, Lord?"

Six years in all. And by the time this little church closed I can say that, Sunday by Sunday, the whole experience grew me. God grew me, with the help of his team, his church. So, here's where I'm at now:

God is real. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Church is important. And so is my marriage.

Bryce knows the above.

And somehow, these days, we make it work.

Huge, huge growth over a distinct period. Huge.

So, if you are reading this and struggling with this whole area (gah!), I think I just want to say it’ll be ok. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, seeking wisdom with each step.

How is church involvement going for you these days? Looking forward to chatting in the comments.


Sow Bountifully, Reap Bountifully

Ann here! Seeds

I have a little thought for us today:

“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. And he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NKJV)

Sowing. In a spiritually unequal marriage? Perhaps we can pause and think about this for a minute.

When we’re in a spiritually unequal marriage, one of our biggest laments (at least initially) might be that we can’t easily give -- That is, ‘sow’, into church life; into the activities of ministry. In Christian circles, the word ‘sow’ is often used for financial giving. I've often heard the phrase come from a minister, “If you would like to sow into this ministry, then …” These words can often make us gulp back some distress, because we don't have the dollars to give. If our spouse doesn't agree, and we share our money with them, we have very little to offer, financially.

In Christian circles, sowing takes other forms too: Volunteering on church rosters, making meals for the sick, and so on. Once again, those things can feel hard to us because we juggle our desire to serve with our spouse's feelings.

But, in a spiritually unequal marriage we have a beautiful and more hidden opportunity to sow. Our marriage is part and parcel of living out the life of Christ, and to sow into that is a rich thing. We can sow bountifully there in the comfort of our own home. And we will reap bountifully. In other words, it's so worth it.

Now, my pastor said an interesting thing to me last year. I'm not sure whether I can align it with scripture (let me know if you can think of where this might be in the Bible), but it's worth a thought. He said: "When you do sow into things you don’t necessarily reap in the place that you sow, but you will reap somewhere -- In some other way."

I think he was speaking more from experience, including the experience of other Christians' testimonies. So, if that is so, and if we choose to ‘sow’ enthusiastically into our marriages, we might find we don't necessarily reap there -- But will certainly reap in some way. We don't do it to reap, anyway, we do it because we love Jesus. But the encouragement is: Just go for it!! Be a bountiful sower!

So, friends, what are the ways in which we do sow into our marriages? We probably all feel we can do better at this. Well, I can anyway. Perhaps we can make a list for ourselves. Top of my list will be this:

Pray lavishly for my husband!

Bryce and I have been married a long time and sometimes it's easy to forget to do even the above so today I'm giving this a go. I'm going to find new and fresh ways to pray for my husband -- For all aspects of his life, including his health, wellness, and work.

Sowing ... Sowing ... And sowing some more.

How about you? Any good ideas for how we can sow into our marriages? We can chat in the comments.

In friendship,

Ann


Top Three Tips for Thriving in a Spiritually Mismatched Marriage

Ann here! Mountain

Today I had an interesting faith conversation with a man with whom I cross paths occasionally. I know him in a professional rather than social capacity, but whenever I see him we have a good chat. So, I'll call him a 'friend-acquaintance'. 

Anyway, today I saw him for the first time in a year and we found ourselves talking about one of my favorite topics (and a topic I don't talk much about): A faith difference in marriage.

Well, who would've thought it, it turns out he’s kind of there too. He is finding himself in that place at home. And so we had a light-hearted (but on-point) chat about it.

Our conversation came about because he asked me if I was still working at the university. I said “No, these days I volunteer in Christian ministry!” “Oh!” He said, “Tell me more!” And so, I told him about this little ministry of ours on the web. I said, “Bryce and I have been through a lot there – There’s a lot to it. You have to learn how to stay happily married, and not annoy each other!”

My friend then shared that he had re-entered church and reconnected with his faith in recent years. His beloved had not. He said, it’s something he’s been wrestling with, especially recently. With that, I told him we had 1,000 + readers on our blog, and I said, “It’s a big need. It’s not uncommon. And, yes, it’s hard.”

Indeed. It. Is. Hard. The church often doesn’t know how to help us. We don’t fit the mold so we stay on the periphery. But the truth is, we’re a big segment of the church -- the Body of Christ -- and we need support. Some of us have figured out how to fit church with home life, and how to follow Jesus in our home. Others of us are still working that out.

My friend/acquaintance asked me a good question today, and one that I think is valuable for anyone new to our blog. He asked: “Ok, so what would be your top three tips for someone in this situation?”

It was on the spot, but here’s what came out of my mouth:

  • Win without words – That is, live your faith out without using a whole lot of words (1 Peter 3:1). 
  • Treat your spouse as the top human in your life. Make sure they know you prioritize that relationship.
  • Pursue your relationship with God above all else, even if your spouse doesn’t like it. You’ll get the most strength and peace if you keep moving forward towards God.

Mm... Those were my thruppence, on the spot. A few hours later I look at this and obviously would put point three at the top. Pursue God -- Jesus -- above all else and everything else will follow. But apart from that, yes those remain my top three.

How about you, what would you have said when asked that question? How would you have worded it? Interested to hear your thoughts, as always.

Great chatting, and have a good weekend!

Ann


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?


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


Nabal, Abigail, and David -SUMITES in the Bible- Summer Bible Study

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWe left our story in 1 Samuel 25 with Abigail meeting David with provisions and a great big “SORRY.” Whew, that sorry and the honor she bestowed upon David saved probably more than 100 people from bloodshed. (verse 33 & 34)

She went home and arrived to ANOTHER drunken banquet. – Ugh!

Abigale was likely exhausted, angry at her mean husband, overwhelmed by the thought of what could have happened to everyone she loved on the ranch. And she came home, perhaps, somehow hoping her husband might ask her where she’d been and where she had disappeared to.

NOPE.

He was very drunk. The next morning when he sobered up and was in his right mind, she told him all about it. And the craziest thing happened.

Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. 1 Samuel 25:37

It’s believed he suffered a stroke. Whoa! I wondered how Abigail processed this? The servants?

Then in verse 38; About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.

Double WHOA!

The Word tells us he was struck by God. Yikes. Now, this sounds all like crazy goodness in that Abigail was rescued from a vile and evil man. It is good however, we can’t look at this story as the happily ever after we all desperately want.

We do know that David honors her request and remembers Abigail and offers her marriage, as the estate would surely not pass to her, as a woman. And she would likely be married off to Nabal’s brother. So David took her in through marriage. But her life wouldn’t have been a picnic. She left wealth to live in a camp with a bunch of hooligans. She wasn’t his only wife and David took on more wives, Bathsheba who we know he really loved. And Michal was with Paltiel.

Good grief!

So what is it about Abigail that God has included her story in the Word?

She was a believer in Yahweh. She trusted Him to save her. She was humble. She was wise. She walked in a beauty in her countenance. She was quick to react and she followed the Lord’s instructions. She was aware of her reality and what was going on around her (David and his past, present and future and what God was doing in him). She loved people and acted quickly to save them, even a wicked man.

Verse 41 & 42: She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.

That’s the last we hear about our beloved, Abigail. But we know one day she will be a queen and live in a palace.

My dear friends, isn’t that what is ahead for all of us?

Where is God calling you to bow down? Where is He calling you into divine wisdom and humility? Where is the Lord asking you to wash the feet of others for a season? Is He calling you to the palace right now?

A queen in the Kingdom of God is a servant. Just as Jesus came to serve, our 80 years here are just that we are called to serve like Jesus. All we need is already provided in our King Jesus and the wedding supper of the Lamb will be our invitation just as Abigail was invited into a wedding by David.

Hallelujah! I love you, SUMites. Next time Ann will be writing about the GREATEST SPIRITUALLY MISMATCHED MARRIAGE in the Bible.

Okay, was this study of 1 Samuel 25 helpful? See you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn


Mother's Day - You Make the Day Great. Here's How.

Happy Mothers Day 2020Sumites, Lynn here.

I’ve been thinking about Mother’s day. Although it’s a few weeks away, today let’s chat about perspective.

In past years prior to the Covid-19 social distancing, us moms would ready our kids in the morning, head off to church-- to then, sit alone. I’ll be honest, it’s pain to watch other women be honored by their spouse and family at church. I’ll also share that the pain of disappointment will wane through the years as you take on more spiritual maturity and also understanding of marriage, spouses, and traditions in the church.

However, this year is very unique. Our entire world has been shut in and a number of us will continue to be shut in weeks after Mother’s Day. So, let me share a gem of advice.

You make the day special.

Don’t depend on your husband and family to set the day up by cooking for you, bringing you flowers and for your children to make you something. Take the initiative. I know this doesn’t sound exactly romantic and you may “feel” as though you are being robbed of a celebration by the hands of your family, but you aren’t.

Decide now to have a picnic somewhere together. Or decide to have a movie night with a projector and show it outside on the garage door seated in lawn chairs. Who knows the neighbors may join you, of course, six-feet apart.

Do some star gazing or roast some marshmallows with your family. Create a craft you can do with your little ones for spring. Have a singing contest or a fashion show. Or throw dinner in the crockpot and have a long bath in the morning.

And prior to that Sunday in May, be straight up with Mr. Right. Let your man know about your expectations. Sometimes they need a little coaching and reminding. Ask them to BBQ for you. Ask him to take the kids to buy a card if that’s possible.

Forgive those who forget or fail to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. And know that your job is applauded in heaven. Mothering is one of the great high and holy callings for humanity. It’s a gift and a joy. Mothering can also rip your heart out at times. But, raising little ones into men and women of God, is worth every effort, all your time, all your prayers, and priorities.

And hear this from me; the LORD is with you every day. He sees your silent sacrifices and knows all that you set your heart upon. Your love will accomplish so much through you and your children for the Kingdom.

Well done Mom.

And from me personally, You are amazing. Keep marching. I’m so proud of you.

Hugs, Lynn


Keep Playing The Christian Music

Hi friends, Ann here! Dance

If there's one passage in the Bible that brings a SUM moment to life, it's the one where David dances to the Lord, his wife Michal sees him through a window, and she 'despises him in her heart'. Gulp -- Let's take a look:

“Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart."

(2 Samuel 6:14-16, NKJV)

David then returns 'to bless his household', and Michal is not feeling it:

“How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (v.20)

We don’t know what marriages were like in those days, but David must have felt sorely misunderstood. Nevertheless, his response shows determination:

“It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore, I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.” (v. 21-22).

To leap and dance for God like David is akin to the intimacy with God that we're currently talking about in our community. I think we all have a leap to take when it comes to intimacy, and for my own part I can say I found it ever so risky to leap towards God and trust he would catch me. Specifically, I struggled to trust that I would not lose Bryce's favor. That was a biggie.

I was helped in this area by a friend whose Dad was a pastor. I wrote to this friend one day when it was all feeling too hard. My words went something along the lines of, "I think Bryce will go off me if I keep going." My friend duly consulted the Dad, who was old and wise, then flicked me an email:

“Ann, with God, the only way to go is forward. Now that you know that God is real, what else are you going to do? Sit in a dark room with a blindfold on? The fence is too sharp to sit on. But here’s what my Dad says: The closer you get to God, the more Bryce will see the spiritual bloom on your cheek. So keep going!”

This was great advice in theory, but I struggled to believe that Bryce would see this elusive 'spiritual bloom on my cheek'. My friend was saying, “Take the leap, Ann. God will catch you!” but the lie I was believing was “If I move any closer to God I'll lose out.” 

To cut a long story short, eventually I let go of the lie. Having leapt into God's arms I truly believe now that the more you love Jesus … Well, everything blooms. As David said to Michal, God has shown himself faithful.

David's response is a good one for us. Essentially he says to Michal, “Look, there is good reason I dance for him the way I do. I am going to carry on, and I will be playing my Christian music.”

Friends, did you catch that? Michal doesn't like his Christian music! I'm laughing as I type and I can't help but wonder if God slipped that part in for humor for us. Even in David’s day, Christian music was hard to play in front of the less believing spouse. Well, nothing there has changed. Eventually, like David, perhaps we stop caring and just play it. In fact, that's been a shift for me only in the last few weeks: I slip the Christian music on, Bryce laughs but doesn't really mind, I keep it on, and as I listen to it I leap -- In my heart.

Well on that happy note, I think the story got a bit more cheerful than at first it seemed. So keep on with that Christian music, friends. And perhaps we can chat in the comments: Has intimacy with God involved a leap for you?


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


To Cherish ...

Hi friends, Ann here! Cherish

The other day I noticed something new about marriage in scripture. It was like a big flashing light going off in my mind, so I thought I'd share. See what you think of this:

In the Bible there are a few key scriptures about marriage, as we know. But what I noticed this week is that in two of those scriptures (one from the Old Testament and one from the New), it says that your treatment of your spouse determines whether your prayers will be heard.

What a thought!

Here are the scriptures in question, and I've highlighted the parts about prayer:

1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV):

“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”

And

Malachi 2:12-15 (NKJV):

“May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, being awake and aware, yet who brings an offering to the Lord of Hosts.

And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” 

**

All of this got me thinking: I often have to guard my heart to stay good to my husband in relation to our faith difference. The spiritually mismatched nature of our marriage raises particular challenges that other couples might not have. I have to make sure I don't hold negative attitudes about certain things. I also have to guard my mouth to make sure when I talk about him my words are good words. The bar is high and I'm a total work-in-progress. 

The Old Testament passage in Malachi might have been addressing the letter of the law, perhaps physical infidelity; but we go beyond that in the spirit of the law, mirroring God's character and trying to be faithful in wider things, like our words. 

This thought takes me meandering back to a moment in 1999, when Bryce and I were getting married. In our heady twenties it was all fun fun fun. But, when we booked in a minister to officiate at our wedding he told us it was his code to give us marriage counselling and we agreed. There was not much that was sensible about the two of us so it was all we could do to stop ourselves losing it in giggles at various points -- Especially when the session turned to the topic of sex. It was all so serious -- Did we really have to be talking about this?! 

But, here's the golden question this minister asked us: “What does it mean to CHERISH someone? Your vows include the word cherish. What does that look like?” This man in his sixties knew what he was talking about. 

Fast-forward twenty years and here we are living with a faith difference that - if we aren't careful to cherish - could fracture us. Yikes, it's not exactly small stuff. What does it look like now for us to cherish each other?

Here's what my favorite old dictionary says about Cherish: "To protect and treat with affection: to nurture, nurse; to entertain in the mind." 

Honestly, I can think of many points where I have not been the shining star at cherishing Bryce. But what I’d like to do is treat him as my most treasured one. This is my heart, so I say 'Help me, God!' My marriage is entwined with the Kingdom. It’s part of that thing I want to seek first. And as I cherish him, then when I march in prayer around my 'Jericho' could it be that those walls of unbelief have a greater chance of falling? The above scriptures suggest perhaps so.

Do you have any thoughts on the concept of cherishing our spouse? We'll chat in the comments!


What Readers Are Saying About The Warrior March!

I can testify that this is the most amazing book!!!

Full of wisdom, hope, miraclesSmall 3D MAJ, Gods redemptive power of love and healing. I wept, I laughed, I hungered and thirsted for more as I turned the pages. You will rejoice with Lynn at her triumphs and faithfulness, marvel at her amazing relationship with the Lord and know that this is for all of us as she encourages and champions us forward every step of the way!!!!

It isn’t just a read through but a do through activation and empowerment to seek all that we are entitled to as children of God. Jesus lived as a man, suffered and died so we could have all and more. Lynn’s brilliant sharing of her journey is going to change lives up to a thousand generations🙏🏽♥️😭🙌🏽🥳🤗🩸💦👆🏽🎈🙏🏽

Visit Marchingaroundjericho.com for more information and read the first two chapters!

 


Be Like Nehemiah: Rise up and Rebuild

Rebuilding-the-wall

By Martha Bush

During this Thanksgiving season, I am so grateful for the “rebuilding blueprints” Neheniah passed down to us as he rebuilt the broken down walls of Jerusalem.

Join me today as I outline his plans for rebuilding. Let’s start in Chapter 1 and listen in on a conversation he is having with his Jewish friends.

How are the Jews getting along who have returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonian Exile?”  “Well, things are not good; the wall of Jerusalem is still torn down, and the gates are burned,” they replied (Nehemiah 1:2-3 TLB)

Nehemiah knew that the Temple in Jerusalem was being reconstructed. Now, his friends were telling him that the city had no protection from its enemies while they were rebuilding the Temple.

Weeping and fasting for several days, Nehemiah asked God to use him to save the city. God answered his prayer by softening the heart of the king who gave him permission to rebuild the walls around the city. In spite of opposition, the wall was rebuilt in 52 days.

I was drawn to this story years ago when everything in my marriage was crumbling. Even though we were spiritually unequally yoked, we had a loving marriage. But, when I followed a new direction the Lord had given me, it was as though an army invaded our home stealing, not only our relationship, but our earthly goods as well. The comfortable lifestyle we had grown accustomed to was gone. Added to this scenario, serious health problems arose. With all the devastation around us, we both wanted to vacate the premises, as in SEPARATE.

Nehemiah’s example of rebuilding was a trumpet call to me to “rise up and rebuild” the broken down walls.

1. Nehemiah confessed the sins of his country, himself, and his ancestors.

I’m praying day and night in intercession for your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel. And I’m including myself and my ancestors among those who have sinned against you. (Neh. 1:6 MSG)

Like Nehemiah, I first confessed my sins for the part I had played in our situation. Next, I confessed generational sins on both sides of our families.

2. Nehemiah EXAMINED every broken wall.

By night I examined the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. (Nehemiah 2:13 NIV)

I asked the Lord to show me where the walls of protection in our marriage had broken.

  • Communication: We’d never learned how to communicate effectively, so when the hard times hit, we yelled and screamed because that was the only way we knew how to communicate.
  • Finances: Our financial strain was due in part because of bad decisions we had made, but some of it was a result of the enemy using various means to steal from us.
  • Parental Influence: Though we both had great parents, we had brought their problems into our own marriage.
  • Not understanding one another’s temperaments: When Mr. Choleric and Miss Phlegmatic came together in the heat of the battle, our opposite traits produced quite an explosion.

3. Nehemiah Had a Vision.

“Face it: we’re in a bad way here. Jerusalem is a wreck; its gates are burned up. Come—let’s build the wall of Jerusalem and not live with this disgrace any longer.” (Neh. 2: 17 MSG)

Andy Stanley, author of Visionary said, “Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be.’ Vision often begins with the inability to accept things the way they are. Over time that dissatisfaction matures into a clear picture of what could be.”

Something inside me clicked. “Rise up and rebuild!”

4. Nehemiah Faced Opposition.

“What are these miserable Jews doing? Do they think they can get everything back to normal overnight? Make building stones out of make-believe?” What do they think they’re building? Why, if a fox climbed that wall, it would fall to pieces under his weight.” (Nehemiah 4:1-3 MSG)

Unfortunately, for a long time, my husband did not share the same vision for rebuilding as I did. “Do you really think God can fix this mess? You need to get your head out of the sand, and face reality! It is over!”

5. Nehemiah’s Response to Opposition.

“Hear us, O Lord God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back upon their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their sin. Do not blot it out, for they have despised you in despising us who are building your wall.” (Nehemiah 4:4-5 TLB)

Nehemiah said nothing to his opposition,  prayed, and kept on building. Jerusalem was a city worth fighting for.

I finally realized it was useless to fight back with words at the opposition. By the grace of God, my husband finally joined me, and we have restored most, (not all yet) of those broken down walls that almost destroyed our marriage. Granted it took more than 52 days to get to the place we are today - we are a stiff-necked couple. The fullness of the vision is for an appointed time.

*****

My Sumite Friends, in the comments tell us how Nehemiah’s example for rebuilding the broken down walls applies to your marriage, finances, health,  church.  Together, we can "rise up and rebuild."

 

 

 

 


One Flesh: Stop Tugging Me!

By Ann Hutchison One flesh  SUM

I have an analogy that I often use when I begin to feel challenged by spiritual difference in marriage. It’s this: My husband and I are like conjoined twins. We're one flesh.

Does that resonate with you? I pull in one direction, spiritually; he might say ‘No!’ and before we know it we’re yanking and straining, stretched beyond possibility. Sometimes it gets too much; then one of us will yell: “Stop it! Ouch!” Being one flesh, we are knit together intensively.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (NKJV)

Thinking about this whole 'one flesh' thing, I decided to watch a documentary on conjoined twins. It might sound bonkers, but that is genuinely how I feel in spiritual terms. He is my other half. Anyway, others’ paths are good to watch, and wow what a path. In this documentary I was struck by one particular pair who were middle-aged and clearly different to each other. In the documentary, it interested me that they have taken decades to work together. I think a SUM can follow this progression too: with time we get a little gentler.

For example, I look back and cringe thinking about the time I said to my husband, “I’m so lonely being a Christian!” Good one, Ann, how did that make him feel? He threw a shocker back: “You’re a supernatural junkie!” At that, I bawled. These were not our finest days.

There are many curious ways ‘one-flesh’ plays out in a spiritually different marriage. There's the fact our resources are joint. If I spend my time on anything related to God, something at home gets waylaid. Often, the washing up or laundry. We all know that it’s busy running a home, so my use of time matters. Essentially, my stewardship of what God has given me affects my husband.

This one flesh thing is shown here, also:

The wife hath not power of her own body but the husband: and likewise also, the husband hath not power of his own body but the wife. 1 Corinthians 7:4 (KJV)

Although that verse is about sexual intimacy, it does reveal our conjoined condition.

So far, ok. But now here’s the added curve-ball that has – at points – sent me over the edge: We’re also one with the church (Ephesians 4:16). And how on earth does that work, when our partner doesn’t want in? I genuinely feel a connection with other believers, but it is Catch 22. Are we conjoined triplets: husband, wife, church? One thing's for sure, it's not comfy. Is three a crowd, or a three-fold cord?

Here's one little way I tense up: I can talk about God with other believers until the cows come home. But, when that happens there’s sometimes a check into my spirit. I become mindful of not being too tight with Christian friends at the expense of my husband. I suppose I make sure those friendships fit into my life with him, and this is a balancing act that I think carefully about.

On the topic of Christian friendships, though, I did have an a-ha moment that helped me. It came from Genesis 1:24: God designed a man to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. From this verse I was able to see that my Christian friends are brothers and sisters, but like father and mother they are secondary family compared to my husband. My relationship with him is tops. After God, of course.

Another thing that helped me was this: God made the wife-husband relationship to be physically intimate, which is something no other relationship has. That intimacy tells me something about the degree to which my relationship with my hubby is beyond any other. It’s in my power to protect that secret place that mirrors the intimacy we have with God (Psalm 91:1). And, if I protect that secret place in marriage, I’m honoring God’s design.

So, those are my musings today. I will be the first to say I have made many silly mistakes in my marriage. Bryce and I have been married twenty years now, which is ample time to accumulate successes and some less fine moments. But one flesh we are, and we try to walk it well.

Now over to you, my SUM friends: What challenges does the 'one flesh' condition raise for you, and how do you tackle them?