Foundational Pillar - Listen In

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Hi everyone. Lynn Donovan here with you. AND Nicole and LuAnn. Nicole and LuAnn will be leading a study of this content on our SUM FB Page and SUM Sisters Group. Check in there if you want to see how others are working through this study.

Today let’s talk about a foundational pillar that is a MUST have in order for effective warfare. In the book, Spiritual Enforcer, I share a significant amount of information regarding the demonic. This is who we are battling.

Today, let’s establish the Pillar of Intimacy with God. And we tackle the GREAT question: Is God Good? And if God is good why does bad things happen to good people?

Download PDF Field Guide → Goodness of God

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

LET'S GO!!!!

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February is going to be amazing. So many of you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. I get it!!!  So, let do something about it.

I want you to know we can have real victory. I know this because the teaching I'm going to share here on the blog and in the book, Spiritual Enforcer, I have lived out. 

I AM CONVINCED that the warfare I learned made the difference in my husband's decision to become baptized. Also, our relationship benefited tremendously. Additionally, other relationships improved and so did numerous difficult circumstances. 

Spiritual Enforcer picks off where Marching Around Jericho ends. The tools, strategies and prayers I share are built upon a strong foundation. This foundation MUST be established to walk out the principles I teach in EnforcerIf you haven't read Marching Around Jericho, please get a copy and read it first. Also, I will be sharing some of the video training I offer as a support to the book.

I will cover some of these basics next week and ask for your input as well. Start this journey NOW.

Leave in the comments your favorite verse that gives you hope, releases victory into your life, or is a power verse to defeat evil. I will collect these and make them available at the end of our study. 

PLEASE take time to leave a verse. It may be the very WORD that helps someone else who is on this journey but right behind you. Love you. See you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn

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

I Dare You to Make This Commitment....

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Hi SUMite Nation,

Lynn Donovan here. Guess what????

I’ve taken over the blog for the month of February!!  Wahoo! Ann has the month off and it’s my turn to lead us for a bit. And I’m feeling a bit feisty. So, hang on to your hat …—

So, I have a few questions for our “Church without Walls.”

One: Who is sick and tired of being sick and tired? 

Two: Who of you would like to see the truths of the Bible come alive in your life? 

Three: Would you be willing to walk with me through a month of learning to war  with supernatural power and authority? 

Four: Who would like to learn to fight the demonic? AND WIN???

If this is you, well get ready because February is Enforcement month here are SUM!!!  And you can bet the devils are already quaking in fear. They don’t want you to know what I know. They don’t want you to discover who you REALLY are and what you contain.

Devils afraid

So here is the real question that requires an answer. And I ask you to answer it publicly, so the demons know you are serious.

ARE YOU READY TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO BECOME A DEMON SLAYER?

Answer in the comments with a resounding, “I’m IN! In Jesus name.”

Get ready to advance the Kingdom of God and bring God’s purposes into your life and those of your family.

I love you. I stand with you. I am for you and Jesus adores you. February is going to be wild. But I promise you this. If you truly step into this with all you have, you will never be the same. Hugs, Lynn

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

Spiritually Unequal Marriage: What Exactly Has God Promised? Part Two

Hi SUMites Ann Lynn

We're picking up where we left off with the question: 'What exactly has God promised us in our spiritually mismatched marriages?' 

To catch up on part one click here.

I mentioned in my last post that I believe God has promised this community 'salvations', and he is asking us to align our eyes with that promise. This has been a long-standing promise in this community.

But we are in it for the long haul: Promises from God don't happen overnight. Salvation could happen on a spouse's deathbed. God hasn't promised us instant victory, nor has he promised us an easy ride. Look at Abraham for the classic example: He was given a promise of a son, and 25 years later it happened.

Some of us have waited longer than that. So, get your marathon-running clothes on and get ready for a longggg race!

The reason God has said 'salvation' to the SUM community is, I believe, that he does not want us to walk this spiritually mismatched path in hopelessness. 

Yes, the spiritually mismatched path is thoroughly gruelling and for a season there will be tears.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: ... A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4, NKJV).

For some of us, there is also a deep wounding that has happened in our marriages. Nevertheless, in the middle of all that, God asks us to 'picture it done'; that is, picture them saved. That is what 'hope' in the Bible means: Picture it done.

As we do that, we then grow something very important: A heart full of peace. And that is a heavenly characteristic.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace ... (Galatians 5:22, NKJV)

And then, I'd like to say this:

God has given us a promise, but it won't automatically happen unless we partner with it

SUMites, I believe that's how it rolls with God's promises. Look at King Saul or King Solomon, for example, who were each given an anointing but shipwrecked themselves. We can shipwreck ourselves in a SUM if we don't partner appropriately with God's word on the matter.

We have to partner with God in this promise of our spouse's salvation, come into agreement with it, and take steps to do our bit. Read Winning Him Without Words, read Marching Around Jericho, read Lynn's upcoming book, Spiritual Enforcer, and do the things it says in there. Determine to walk this SUM walk with excellence.

Scripture says the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believing spouse. I am speculating here, but that could mean that there are certain things we do to sanctify them. It could mean our prayers, for example, sanctify them; or it could mean our love sanctifies them. Who knows!

What I do know is that God has given us the various tools we need through this ministry, but we have to choose to enact the actions.

I have a friend who Bryce and I have known for years. Currently he is hostile towards Christians and is a pain to be with. He has wounded me over the years, and I have had to put appropriate boundaries around that relationship. But God has promised me he'll turn. So however bad it looks right now I'll never lose faith in that, and I'll never stop doing my bit.

Paul pointed this out to his younger counterpart, Timothy:

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, by which some having rejected concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck (1 Tim 1:18-19, NKJV)

So yes, those are some thoughts on what God has promised us. To recap:

Point #1: God deliberately gives us mystery in our SUM walk

Point #2: Our spouse is sanctified by us

Point #3: The unbelieving spouse needs to make a choice

Point #4: God does not want us to walk in hopelessness

Point #5: God has given us a promise, but it won't automatically happen unless we partner with it

Well, as I said, we wrestle with these concepts and do our best to understand God's heart.

SUMites, of the five points here, which do you wrestle with or wonder about?

Love you all,

Ann

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

In a Spiritually Mismatched Marriage, What Exactly has God Promised?

Dear friends, Ann here Ann Lynn

In our spiritually mismatched marriages, what has God promised?

I thought this would be a nice follow-on from last week's posts, in which I described that a community promise of 'salvation'. Does that mean all our spouses will all be saved? 

The photo I've included here is of me and Lynn. It looks like we're asking each other, 'What do you think?' There are a lot of topics like that in SUM. We wrestle with questions.

Anyway, as I tackle this one I'm going to wind my way through thoughts that I've constructed over the years. I have three sources of information to draw from:

(1) Scriptures

(2) God's voice, and

(3) Things we've seen happen.

So let's go!

Point #1: God deliberately gives us mystery in our SUM walk

Scripture says:

How do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:16, NKJV)

I like that little scripture. It tells me clearly that there are some things in our faith walk that are deliberately mysterious, and we have to accept that. The question of an unbelieving spouse's salvation is one of those 'deliberate mysteries'. That said, we have had a 'salvation' promise as a community on a number of occasions, and God does tell his people things that are to come. So what is the posture we must take?  Do we allow mystery, or do we walk through this with absolute certainty they will be saved? 

I'd say the answer is: "Be at peace. Believe it will happen. Speak about it hopefully. And surrender it to God." I think that's what God asks of us. Certainly be at peace.

Point #2: Our spouse is sanctified by us

The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean but now they are holy (1 Cor 7:14, NKJV)

My friends, a great thing to do for anyone in a spiritually mismatched marriage is to study that word 'sanctification' (Hagiazo in Greek) and look at all the other times it is used in the Bible. Once you do that you see how huge 'sanctification' is. It means we do make our spouse holy. Wow. BUT: how far it extends remains a mystery. None of us have the answer about what sanctification looks like; well, I sure don't. So we look at God, awestruck and reverently, and whisper to him, "Lord, dare I hope that my faith will touch this beloved person with such power that they collapse in awe of you too?"

Point #3: The unbelieving spouse needs to make a choice

A big part of our spiritually mismatched walk involves our spouse making a choice, and I believe that God wants them to have that choice. 

But if the unbelieving spouse departs, let him depart... (1 Cor 7:15)

The choice our spouse makes is this: To stay in the marriage or leave. Then, to be supportive, or not. Frankly, all of us risk losing our spouse because of our faith. I hope that's not too harsh to say. But it is what it is, and it's ok: God has us, and this is a faith test for us.

We will stay with our spouse if they want us and if they are willing to honor the marriage covenant. If the marriage is abusive, then that is a broken covenant, and the believing spouse is well advised to get out. But if it's not abusive, then we stay, and we say, "I will cherish you until death parts us."

Even if they leave, however, a bowl full of prayers of the saints will have been said for them. And what power lies in that. It may be that they come to the end of their life, and on their death-bed they bow their knee. Who knows. 

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (Rev 5:8, NKJV)

Well, my friends, I'm at the end of my word count, so I am going to pause there; but I will continue on Monday with Point #4: God does not want us to walk this in hopelessness. 

See you in the comments!

Love,

Ann

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

Spiritual Warfare for the Unequally Yoked

Hi SUM Nation: Important Information below the review:

Lynn Donovan here. Today I want to provide an update regarding the Spiritual warfare book for the Unequally Yoked. It is nearing completion. Here is an early review by one of our own:

“This book is exactly what I needed at the exact right time in my faith walk. So many questions I had were answered and in a way that I could comprehend. Lynn has a clear and straightforward style that is truly a gift.

I feel this book is three books in one. I went through it 3 times! The first read is a breath of air straight through to the end, the second read is to mark all the prayers and prayer prompts, the third read is to notate all of the points to use and apply to my life. I know this book will become an integral part of my faith education.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is ready to have their eyes opened. No more being blinded by the enemy.  No more!” —Karen Sadler, Clovis, CA, USA

Spiritual Enforcer is a continuation of concepts, teaching, and real tools from the book, Marching Around Jericho. If you haven't read through that book, pick up a copy and get started. The foundational concepts of identity and intimacy ARE REQUIRED in order to walk in what I share in Spiritual Enforcer. 

Enforcer is slated to launch in late February. What I share requires spiritual maturity. The concepts and truths from the Word are seldom taught from the pulpit. BUT we need these truths to effectively enforce the will of God in our faith, marriage, and family.

Marching Around Jericho Cover

 

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverI'll share more about the book and the video teaching, I plan to offer, in the weeks ahead. I want all of you to become fully equipped because that is where Jesus is calling the church today. We must be healed, delivered, and empowered for this next great move of God!

Hallelujah! Love you. Get ready... Enforcer will change you. Hugs, Lynn

 

 

 

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

God Confirms His Promise: Will We Believe It?

Happy Monday, friends!

Today I'm continuing the story about our SUM monument in Florida. For part one of the story, click here.

I left off where I described the fact that in Florida there is a certain house that has scriptures written on the beams. These scriptures were sent in by SUMites, as the house was being built, and now that house stands as a memorial for our ministry.

It's so cool. I love it! However, there is more to tell.

Way back in 2016, as the house was being built, we had our annual SUM community fast. And during that fast God gave the SUM community a promise. He gave it to Dineen. It was this:

SALVATION is coming to your homes. Figs and canaries

In Jeremiah 24 there is an image of a basket of good figs. These figs represent people who I am going to bring out of captivity and return to Me.

Your spouses are like those good figs. I will build and plant them. I will not tear them down or pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know me. They will be Mine; I will be theirs.

Amen.

Dineen decided to write this promise on a piece of paper, sign her name beside it, put it in a plastic baggie, and bury it under the foundation of the house.

She duly buried it with her patient husband standing by her side. What on earth did he think of all this? Well, I think our spouses eventually get used to our little faith-filled shenanigans. If he's anything like my hubby he probably didn't read what was on the paper.

Anyway, that was that. But I have not forgotten that story or that promise; and about a year ago I asked Dineen 'What was the address of the house?'

She told me, I recorded it, then forgot about it.

On New Year's Eve 2023, however, just as the new year was coming in, God reminded me of that house, and I sensed I was to look up the address on Google maps. As I did, my mouth DROPPED. OPEN. On Google maps, just below the house was the word 'Marriage Saved'!Marriage saved 2

I am not making this up.

And just beside it was the word 'Promise'.

Ok, that was amazing. And after seeing that I sat back on the couch where I was sitting and thought "God, you are here, and you are speaking about the SUM community right now through this."

I've included the screenshot of Google maps here so you can see for yourself. The house is where the red marker is. If you look to its right you can see the word 'Promise' (Lily's Promise), and if you look down towards the bottom of the map you can see 'Marriage saved'.

My friends, what this does for me is leave absolutely no doubt in my mind that God has promised us salvations in marriages.

And I would argue that we should take this promise very seriously.

God does not want us to go into bitterness, pity or hopelessness in our SUMs. He wants us to walk in peace, and he wants us to trust him. What's more, he wants us to fight for these marriages and these salvations.

That's the story I wanted to tell you. Yes it's been seven years and counting since this promise was laid in the foundation of that house in Florida. BUT, let us not doubt.

My friends, I hope that encourages you. How easy do you find it to believe? Let's chat in the comments.

Ann

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

An Important Story for Us: The House in Florida

Dear friends, Ann here. Once upon a time

Today I'm going to share a very special story. It is a story that is important for our community. It is a story that is breathed by God's mouth.

I always try to write exactly what God wants me to write. He picks the topics. So today this is what he has picked: It is a story of a seed that was planted for us -- the SUM community -- seven years ago.

As I often say, grab a hot drink and make yourself comfy. Now I'll begin

Once Upon a Time there was a House in Florida

SUMites, did you know that there is a special house in Florida that stands as a memorial for us? Those of you who have followed this blog for years will know about it, but many of you won't, so let me tell you about it.

In 2016, this ministry was being led by Lynn Donovan and Dineen Miller. These two laid down their lives. Ministry is not easy at the best of times, let alone when you have an unbelieving spouse who is being dragged along in it and who is the topic of one's writing (Gah!!!) So, I really am grateful for the foundation that these two women laid.

But the story I'm going to tell today involves an actual foundation that Dineen laid in a house in Florida.

To begin, I'm going to start by sharing the story behind the house. Here's what Dineen shared about it on the blog in 2016:

"Roughly 26 years ago we moved away from Sarasota and family to find a better place for our growing family. At the early buddings of our careers, we couldn’t afford to buy a house. Though we loved being near our families, we didn’t see much of a future here. We moved away and lived in many places, including Switzerland for a short time.

Fast forward to the end of 2010. We (me, hubby and our girls) drove to Florida from California to spend Christmas with family. One day as I sat with my mother and my youngest daughter, we prayed a prayer that God answered so fast it made my head spin, yet would take four years to fully manifest.

I wanted to move back to Florida. My husband adamantly did not. Yet that day my mother, daughter and I prayed for God to soften my husband’s heart about moving back. Three days later hubby and I left the kids with the grandparents to run an errand and have a few minutes alone. Mike’s unusual silence told me something was on his mind. 

Suddenly he asked, “How would you feel about moving back to Florida?” 

I was so stunned I couldn’t speak a coherent word for about three minutes! Little did I know that the next four years would be filled with some tough times for us financially and would just about make me lose hope in that dream becoming a reality. Then everything “suddenly” fell into place."

So, Dineen and Mike ended up building a house. In Florida. A dream house. And that was all a nice personal miracle; but little did we know what God would do next.

Sarasota scripture

Indeed. God had an instruction. As the house was going up, the Lord asked that the SUM community write in with scriptures about his promises for our families, and Dineen was to write those scriptures by hand onto the beams of the house.

I'll interrupt here to say I can't imagine what her husband thought LOL. 

I seem to remember he did walk past one of the scriptures and muttered "Is this one of yours?" "Yep" she smiled back, and no more was said.

Funny.

Anyway, the builders duly plastered over the beams, hiding these scripture promises. There these promises sat, sealed forever, in a seemingly ordinary house, on a seemingly ordinary housing estate, in Sarasota, Florida.

And there this house proceeded to stand as a monument to SUM, for the next seven, eight years.

Oh what a delicious story this is. Wait till you hear what God asked next. Stay tuned for the next instalment on Monday.

SUMites, do you remember this story? What does it make you think of so far?

Ann

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

A Promise of Turnaround

Hello SUMites Turnaround

Last week we fasted.

I want to share something cool that happened right at the end of my fast: In the last five minutes. Each year something fun happens right at the end of the fast. It's as if God gives me a little 'wink'.

Your fast will look different: You'll have different things that God does for you in your fast, different ways in which he makes himself visible. 

Anyway, this one is a story for US, so here's what happened:
 
I was due to finish my fast at 6pm, and the day was drawing to a close. I had sat on the couch for much of the day and was feeling delightfully peaceful, when all of a sudden, at 5:45pm, I hear the electric gate go and a car pull in. Bryce had come home early.
 
The front door swings open with a clatter, and in bustles my husband like a whirlwind. He finds his work stressful and doesn't always come home in peace. This was one of those days. He moved around with a barrage of comments, pointing out things to complain about (e.g., you haven't closed the curtains, the house is hot), then sat down on the couch and started talking with an edge of angst in his voice, about how stressed he was about a particular situation with one of our children and how he had not been able to stop thinking about it all day.
 
I interrupted him, and I did it nicely: "Babe, I have fifteen minutes left of my fast. Can you just hold the thought, so that I can finish in peace and quiet? Then we'll talk."
 
He took it well, so off he went to the bedroom, and off I went to the bathroom floor, thanked God for the time we'd had together, and officially said "I'm ending my fast now."
 
When I came out, I headed for the couch once more, looked at the clock and it was 5:55pm. Then it happened --
 
Bryce calls out from the bedroom, "Ann? Can you help me turn this mattress around?"
 
"Sure," I say, thinking "I'm weak, but I'll do it" and off I go ....
 
Once there, we stand across the bed from each other and turn ... turn ... turn ... the mattress around. It was a heavy thing, so it took some doing. Turn. Turn. Turn.
 
I stop then, and suddenly think to myself, 'OH I'M HELPING HIM TURN THINGS AROUND'.
 
It felt symbolic.
 
It felt, in fact, like God was saying to me, "You are helping your husband turn things around; you are helping the SUMites turn things around; and I promise you that you will see turnaround in this community."
 
I know God is real, I know the power of fasting, I know he speaks, and I know that every other fast has involved a God wink in the last five minutes. Therefore, I receive this as a word from the Lord, and I take it seriously.
 
My friends, when something like this happens -- when God gives us a promise like 'turnaround' -- we must believe it. Let's not put it on the shelf and say 'Oh that's nice' then forget about it. No, we must take it seriously and say 'I'm going to believe this.'
 
That's what Abraham did, and it was counted to him as righteousness. So how about we all, in the privacy of homes today, declare out loud to the Lord, this:
 
In the name of Jesus,
I declare that there will be a turnaround in the place of my marriage.
I believe I am going to help my spouse turn things around.
And I believe that I will see other SUMites do the same.
 
And now with that said, finally on Friday I am going to tell you one very important story for our community. A story I have been wanting to tell for a couple of weeks. You will enjoy it: Catch you then.
 
Love
Ann

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

Community Fast - Day Five, We Are THERE!

Ann here Race

As I write it is 4pm on day five over here in New Zealand, and I have two hours left to go, woohoo!

Today I would like us to share in the comments how our fast has gone: Specifically, what have you experienced from God this week?

I'll share a little about mine in a moment, but first picture this:

This fast is like a race, where we're nearing the finish line, and we're running it together.

The sun sets on a Friday in New Zealand first, and so us Kiwis will end our fast. There are at least a couple of us here in Auckland who are fasting.

Two hours later the sun will set in Australia, and our Australian SUMites will finish.

Ten hours later the Europeans will finish.

And finally, about six hours after that, those on the American continent will end their race. Lynn brings up the rear in the final time zone, over in California, Pacific time.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)

As I finish this particular race, I feel spiritually refreshed. And here's something that characterized my fast this year:

I had this weird feeling that I wanted to read the Bible without stopping. And that led me to race through much of the New Testament in the style of Forrest Gump! I just had to ... keep ... reading.

Are you still running, Forrest? Are you still reading, Ann?

So over this week I galloped through the whole of Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy, the last part of Acts ... And finally, Hebrews.  Phew!

What's more, when I was sat there, on the couch, devouring his words, I did not feel the hunger pangs anymore. It was as if I was sat there in a beautiful bubble of comfort.

I would then pause, turn to my past journals, and read through things I have felt God say in my life. More feeding: This time I was feeding on his spoken word. And still, my hunger seemed to stay at bay.

His written word is power. His spoken word adds layers of blessing. We need both.

So that was my fast. And based on that I'm going to suggest a final prayer for us all:

Lord crack open your word in my heart. Implant it in me, and let it feed me supernaturally, so that I am full to the brim with you.

Ok, over to you, SUMites, how has it gone for you?

Ann

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

Community Fast - Day Four Prayer Prompt

SUM Fast 2024Today we are taking our prayers into real preparation for warfare.

Today, ask the Lord for revelation. And ask for wisdom. Ask God to reveal or perceive what you don’t see that is going on first in the spiritual realm and then in the natural. 

Prayer prompt: Lord, reveal the truth about my marriage and my family relationships. Provide me wisdom to process and then work through issues that are ungodly or outside of your Biblical design. Pour your discernment upon my mind and spirit to unwind complex problems and relationships with the wisdom from heaven. Reveal anything the devil is doing in secret and provide the wisdom to confront it. In Jesus name. AMEN.

Now listen. Write down what you hear.

Now ask for courage and strength to battle for truth, hope, and health in 2024. In Jesus name.

What did you learn this morning? Share in the comments. I'll see you there. Love and hugs, Lynn

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

Community Fast -- Day Three Prayer Prompt

Ann here, hello my fellow fasting SUM warriors! Fast n pray

Day 3 of the fast.

I'm writing just after midday on day 3. Today finds me hungry, a little spaced out, and feeling doddery. How's your fast gone? Share in the comments if you like.

I sat with God for a long time this morning, and wrote this to him:

I feel like I'm in a bubble of glory this morning.

It is so beautiful being able to sit with you and devote this time to you and your word - written and heard.

My friends, this is the tenth year I've taken part in this community fast. And I am convinced that these fasts are responsible for my ability to walk cheerfully in my SUM situation. I believe the same can be said of many of you, who I know have done these corporate fasts year after year. These fasts have led those who participate to be victors and overcomers in their SUMs.

That is no small thing. It is a miracle to have your attitude changed when you're in a spiritually mismatched marriage.

The first fast I did was in 2015. I approached it with huge trepidation and wow was it hard! I tried to go from morning to sunset each day without food and by 3pm every single day I was hanging around the kitchen fighting the urge to have a bag of chips. I would usually cave and shove a pile of food in my mouth at high speed, crumbs flying.

"Aggh, God! I didn't manage it!" I would whimper, licking the salt and grease of the chips off my lips, and feeling instantly better but frustrated I'd given up. But no, he laughed over me. He loved my heart and little did I realize what a powerful thing I'd been partaking in, this corporate fast.

Over the years my stamina for fasting increased. Still, "Come on Bryce!" I would anguish. "Turn to God, then I won't have to fast any more!"

I'm laughing now. It's not about that. It's not about fasting so he gets saved. It's about fasting so that I become close to God. All else flows from that.

Well, somewhere along the 2015-2024 fasting path, a miracle did happen: God removed all of my pain about my SUM. He operated on it like a surgeon, stitched me up and lo and behold it was gone.

Inconvenience still, yes; challenges still. But not pain.

So I'd love our prayer prompt today to be about that. Let's pray:

Lord, heal me of my pain about my SUM.

In the name of Jesus, let there be no more pity, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, or bondage in me in relation to this SUM situation.

In the name of Jesus, I speak into my heart JOY. PEACE. HOPE. and LOVE. in relation to my marriage.

Jesus, take me into the operating theatre of the Holy Spirit and do a miraculous work in my mind and heart. 

And finally, Jesus, make me an overcomer!

My friends, if you would like prayer for the pain, post in the comments and I'll pray for you. You may find the road to healing is still a little longer than you hope, and he may take you on a learning journey, but God will surely answer that prayer.

Sending you so much love

Ann

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

Community Fast -- Day Two Prayer Prompt

Hello dear SUM community Fast n pray

Day 2 of our fast.

How is it going? If you didn't manage what you hoped, don't worry, pick yourself up, get back on the horse and start again. It is not about performance, it's about the heart, and God loves our efforts.

Now, here's a thought I had today. Fasting involves two things --

#1: Weakening ourselves by going without food.

Phewee it's tough eh!

And --

#2: Spending time with God, quietening our soul.

During this particular fast, Bryce is at work, I have cleared my calendar of all things this week, and in theory I do have hours available to sit with God.

I have a nice little spot in the sun that I've made, and I sit there with my Bible, journal, laptop, and relevant books to dip into.

HOWEVER, I find when I sit with God I say to him "What shall we talk about?"  Or ... "How do I connect with you?" I drum my fingers, and then after a little while I reach for my phone or some other distraction. "Oh, I'll just text this person... then I'll carry on talking to God."

No, be still, my soul!

I've realized this time round that one of the biggest challenges of fasting is not only going without food; it's also the ability to quiet myself.

Thankfully by day four or five, I'll be in a state where I just lie on the bed, and perhaps then it might be easier. I'll play a bit of worship music then while I lie there and will wait on his voice.

So our prayer point today is about connecting with God. How do you connect with God? 

One of our SUMites, Jeanne R wrote this to me this week: "I often take communion each morning during a fast, praying for Jesus to feed me with his body and pleading his blood over myself, my family, my home and workplace."

How else can we do it? Let's pray:

Lord, quiet my soul so that I can spend time with you.

Lord, help me not get distracted from keeping my eyes on you.

Lord, show me ways to connect with you creatively.

Well, SUMites, I do have a story for you that I mentioned last week, but I'm going with the flow as to what to post this week, so I might write that tomorrow, or leave it to early next week. We'll see where the Spirit leads.

All the very best with day 2 of your fast. You can do it!

Ann

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

Community Day One - Prayer Prompt

SUM Fast 2024My friends,

On this first morning of prayer, you are likely feeling enthusiastic and energized to stay the course. Excellent. Let's jump into today's prayer prompts are:

  • Seek God. Call out to God. Ask for greater awareness of His Presence. Ask for insight into His love and character. Ask Him for His will and purposes for you in 2024. Then share with Him your dreams. And dream Big. Write them down and tuck them away to read at the end of the year.
  • Pray and ask the Lord to reveal any lies you have believed about him, Jesus or Spirit. Allow Him to minister truth and healing to your body, your soul and your spirit. This is at the heart of spiritual warfare.
  • Pray for strengthening to fast. Ask the Holy Spirit to support you and empower you to stay the course.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Show yourself kindness. If you slip up, don't heap condemnation upon yourself. God loves that you are attempting to grow closer to Him. Love on yourself. And hop back into your fast.

In the comments, please share with me what God revealed or how He loved on you during your morning time with Him. Please share with the community some way that God has been faithful in your life in the past year. 

Let's truly open this fast, open the gates to heaven, with praise and thanksgiving. 

Hallelujah. See you in the comments. Lynn Donovan

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

Guest Post by LuAnn Wendover

Hi gang LuAnn

Today we are blessed to have a guest post from long-time SUMite LuAnn Wendover. Many of you will know LuAnn as she actively serves our community by encouraging and praying for many of us. LuAnn has a strong heart for fasting and runs a weekly fast for a group of SUMites behind the scenes. So, without further ado, here's LuAnn:

**

And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

The yearly fast for our SUM community is quickly approaching. This 5 day fast is to focus SUM for the upcoming year in direction and leading from Abba.

It is always good to examine why we do what we do as followers of Jesus, and what our expectations and hopes are from the fast.

Why do we fast? What is it about fasting that is so important? Who should fast? How do you prepare for a fast?

For me, fasting is about shutting down my flesh with its never ending demands for attention. It is a time of preparing my heart for an encounter with the one who loves me the best. For over five years, my prayer partner, Nickole, I, and other Sumites have fasted weekly. The focus on this type of fast is completely different from a yearly, corporate fast. It is a fast to intercede for the needs of others. So our focus is on denying our appetite for food to approach the throne of God with the needs of our community. 

A corporate fast should be a unity in spirit seeking Him for the good of the corporate body...ie. the SUM community as a whole. The focus is to see what he wants from us as a group. And to see and understand how we as a community can further His kingdom.

I would suggest some research into the differing types of fasts as well as asking Holy Spirit what He would have you do. 

Fasting needs to be focused. It is not simply going without food but replacing that time with prayer or reading the word or praise and worship to seek Jesus. It is denying the screaming baby (our appetite) to better hear Him. It is learning to listen. It is learning how strong our flesh is and what it takes to subdue it.

We are living in times of rapid and insidious change. We need to be closer to our savior than ever before. Fasting gives us that opportunity to seek him, draw strength from Him, and fight the good fight.

Like every spiritual discipline, fasting is like a muscle. The more it is used and exercised, the stronger and more capable it becomes as a tool. 

I would like to encourage you to take part in our yearly fast. There is something very powerful in God's people coming together to seek Him. And our community is not just the leadership. Each of us is important and vital to the success of the group. Each has gifts to share, testimonies that impact each other, support and encouragement. So please consider taking part this year.

LuAnn Wendover is from Milan, NY. She has been a member of the SUM community for several years now. She is a wife, mother of 7, and grandmother of 14. She loves to encourage others in their walk with Jesus.

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

Sumite Community Fast

SUM Fast 2024Hello SUMites,

In preparation for our fast that begins on Monday, January 8th at sunrise, I want to offer a few points to help make your fast successful. 

First, figure out what kind of fast you will be partaking. This year, I'm praying for a healthy lifestyle of eating. I'm going to participate in a Daniel fast. I began this fast on January 1st. I'm fasting at least 21 days, longer if I can. 

Remember you can fast many different ways, such as fasting from social media, fasting from television, but the kind of fasting in the Bible is a food fast. Best advice is to ask the Lord what He wants this fast to look like in your life.

Remember, stay hydrated. Generally, most people don't drink enough water in a day. I purchased a large jug last year. I drink the entire half gallon a day. 

Helpful tip: Light a candle. Place the candle in your kitchen or someplace where you see it often. It is a light to remind you to pray. Try this. It really helps. I burn a candle in my living room and when I see it, I pray a blessings prayer. I'll share more about those in my book that is coming out soon.

Determine to seek God. 

Fasting is commanding our desires into submission and allowing our spirit to engage with our Father, Jesus, and Spirit. 

Fasting brings clarity. 

Finally, bring your cell phone into submission. DO NOT take it into your daily prayer time. Just sit with God and listen. He won't compete with the phone. I mean it.

Ann and I will be leading the fast with a prayer prompt each morning. I will be focusing on spiritual warfare, as that is what my new book is about. And real warfare is intense. Fasting draws you closer to God and His wisdom and protection. Which we certainly need if we are going to battle the demonic for ourselves and family members.

Okay, any questions? Leave me a comment.

Are you participating? Please leave your name, where you are from and any prayer requests. I WILL pray over all of them during our fast.

I love you, my dearest, brothers and sister. I hold you deeply within my heart. 

I declare VICTORY for our community. VICTORY. It's finally time to experience God's victories in our lives. I can't wait to hear how God is moving in your life in 2024.

Love and hugs, Lynn Donovan

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

New Year - New Beginnings!

Happy New Year, dear SUMites. We trust your Christmas went well and you’ve stepped into the New Year, yes, it’s 2024, positively.

Pexels-james-wheeler-1578750
Photo courtesy of James Wheeler and pexels.com

As a quick side note, the world often expects us to charge into the new year but after a usually busy December, I find it’s often good to gently step into it. Our souls need it. I’d encourage us all to set aside some time to meet with the Lord and simply rest in His presence. Take some time, if you are able, to simply be peaceful with the lover of our souls. Let Him replenish and refresh you as only he can.

New Beginnings

For much of December as I walked through Advent, I was reminded that when Jesus entered the world as a babe, He brought something new. Himself. And in many unexpected ways.

He continues to offer us something new. It’s in His nature.

I began to sense that newness was a theme for my 2024. And only this morning I read an email newsletter that talked about new beginnings: “Our very life here depends directly on continuous acts of beginning.”

These were words from an Irish poet/philosopher that some of you may have heard of, John O’Donohue.1 If not, look him up as he’s quite marvellous. I’ll finish this post with the poem he wrote about beginnings.

Before I do that, I wanted to share a little about what this might mean for me and what I’m doing about it. I’ve found the past year to be a frustrating one and when I reviewed the year with the Lord over the past week, I got a strong sense to not spend too much time reviewing it, simply to move on and let it go. On Boxing Day I read these words from Isaiah 43:18-19:

"Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.

I am about to do a new thing now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?"

And so I step into the future expectant. Of what, I’m not exactly sure, but the hope and anticipation that comes with venturing into something new, even if unsure what that might be. Think Abraham.

Distractions

I’ve allowed myself to get too distracted. For too long. The world throws so much at us that it is easy to use up valuable time scrolling … and scrolling some more. “Distracted people … are habitually diverted to less important things.”2

So, I’ve quit Instagram and will do similar with Twitter. Also, will stay off Facebook for the next few weeks. To abstain and to explore other areas of my ‘media’ consumption that can become all consuming.

The easiest way to change a habit is to introduce a new one. I’ll be reverting to a more structured daily schedule that typically has always worked for me. I’m a creature of structured routine.

I’m determined to finish this Angelguard trilogy this year. Jack Haines, my lead character, keeps bugging me because he wants to start something new himself. That’s where you’ll find me most days now; with Jack and Jesus.

What about You?

What might be a theme for 2024 for yourself? It’d be fun to share in the comments below, encouraging each other in exploring that theme.

A final note on our fast next week. Fasts are great ways to eliminate stuff and start new stuff. We allow Jesus greater access through abstinence. As a result, our airwaves are often clearer, enabling us to better hear Him and what He would have us do. Even a simple daily prayer like, “Lord, how can I please you today?” can become a habit which changes our days.

Know we’ll all be praying for each other as we gently step into our fast next week.

And now to O’Donohue’s poem3. I hope you might find it as inspiring as I did.

For a New Beginning

by John O’Donohue

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Warmest blessings for 2024.

Grace and peace.

Note: 1. Maria Popova, aka, The Marginalian, A Spell Against Stagnation: John O’Donohue on Beginnings, 30/12/2023, 2. Chris Hall, A Different Way (Harper Collins, New York, 2023), 274. 3. Popova, ibid

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

The plan for our community fast

Hello dear SUMites, Ann here. Refreshing 2

Something amazing happened this week -- I received something from God specifically for our SUM community, and I am going to tell you about it next week when we begin our annual fast.

I'll keep you in suspense about that one :-)

But for now, this week let's get preparing for our annual SUM community fast.

Many of you have taken part in this fast before. For others of you it will be the first time. Here's how it works:

We fast from sun-up on Monday the 8th of January until sunset on Friday the 12th.

If you haven't fasted before, a good way to start would be to go without food from sun-up to sun-set each day and have a small bite to eat in the evening, while still drinking liquids throughout the day.

However, pray about it and see what the Spirit is leading you to do.

Why do we fast? It lifts us into a greater level of intimacy with God, bringing spiritual blessings and power to our situation. Things change when we fast. Honestly, we could write a book based on some of the things that have happened to SUMites in this community when fasting.

It really is a blessed time.

The first time I took part in this community fast, one of my favorite things that happened was that in the final hour -- at 6pm on the Friday -- I walked into my bedroom to find Bryce lying on the bed reading a Christian book. That was unheard of, it completely bowled me over, and I look back now and see it as a God 'wink' to show me that, yes, my fasting had done something in the heavenlies.

Fasting is not about twisting God's arm. Rather, it's about seeking him, and asking for more of him. When we make ourselves vulnerable and hungry it sends us to our knees in a way that other things don't.

So, to prepare:

  • Pray now for your ability to fast
  • Read some scriptures about fasting
  • Clear your week as much as you can, including getting your family to cook next week. or planning some meals ahead for them
  • Get juices and other nice drinks in stock to help you through
  • Consider telling your spouse/family, if you can - I do tell mine, though it wasn't easy to do at first.

Exciting! Yep, that's right, I'm excited about it. Tough as it is.

What questions do you have about fasting? Fire away!

Lots of love

Ann

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

Our Annual Community Fast

Dear SUMites Fast n pray

Well, it is that time of year again -- A time of year that many of us anticipate: Our annual SUM Community Fast.

The fast will commence at sunrise on Monday, January 8th and conclude at sundown on Friday January 12, 2024. 

This year we are preparing ourselves for the spiritual warfare that we will engage in beginning in February when we work our way through Lynn's new book, Spiritual Enforcer.

During this fast we will seek the Lord for any way that the enemy holds legal grounds in our personal lives and find freedom for ourselves. Our freedom empowers and enables us to effectively battle for our families beginning in February.

This is the most important fast to date. Plan to participate and let your family know you will be fasting. In the meantime, I will write a little more about it in my next post.

Hold on to your hats. We are going to stand in victory in 2024: Victory in Christ in our lives, our faith and marriages. 

In Jesus' name. AMEN.

Love,

Ann

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

A Husband-Wife Conversation

By Ann Hutchison Bible 2

Here's a scene from this week in our house -- It was a crazy little spiritually mismatched scene.

Bryce is sitting at the table, doing some work. I'm on the couch in my pyjamas, reading the Bible.

A song pops into my head that I really wanted to listen to. 

Me:         "Mind if I put a song on?" 

Bryce:     "Is it a Christian power ballad?" 

Me:         "Yes."

Bryce:     "Then that probably would bother me. Perhaps you can wait till I've gone?"

I think he was thinking about the noise and intensity of it interrupting his work rather than the Christian side of it. Anyway, I got up, took the portable speaker into the bathroom, started to straighten my hair and listened to the song in there with the door closed.

Turns out it was a longgggg song ... So eventually with freshly straightened hair I emerged with the speaker in hand, the song still playing, and headed into the bedroom to dress. My hubby was now there too, getting ready to leave.

The song played on .....

Open the scroll, break the seal, worthy one.

Open the scroll, break the seal, worthy one.

You are holy.

Lord God Almighty.

I could feel the gentle presence of God, like a breeze, and the song filled our bedroom.

"I love God!" I burst out to Bryce. He smiled and paused.

Bryce:     "Yeah, I just can't relate. I just can't imagine loving someone you can't actually ..... see.

Me:         "I suppose he puts it in you. It's the Holy Spirit, he deposits the love in you. He does it all, and then you can't really help feeling that way about him."

Bryce:     "I guess so."

And off he went to work.

Yep, there we have it, just a normal day in a spiritually mismatched home. Well, it was not normal because there are no normal days. What's more, when we talk about things of the Spirit with our spouse - a feat that happens rarely -- it will always be a seed that will bloom. 

Meanwhile, here's the song -- and on this lovely Friday evening I'm going to put it on now and enjoy it once again.

Love you all!

Ann

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

Leafing Through His Story

By Ann Hutchison Tree

My house is peaceful and quiet; everyone's still asleep. It's 6:30am, and I'm wrapped in a fluffy robe.

Time with Him. Ahhh.

I know us SUMites love our time with God, and many of us get up early to have it.

Well, I mentioned in my last post that today I would share how I connect with the story of the birth of Jesus. So here goes. But to tell the story I need to backtrack:

A few years ago, a colleague who had left his faith told me the Gospels were 'inconsistent with each other'. He suggested that because of those inconsistencies the Bible was not inerrant. I was reasonably new to my faith at the time, and I didn't particularly mind him telling me that. I thought "If he's right, then I should take notice." My primary concern was truth, and I didn't mind where that took me. So I investigated.

Were the Gospels inconsistent? I pulled them to me: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and I read them, event by event, side by side, from start to finish.

I didn't find them to be problematic. Instead, what I found was that they each provided a different piece of a puzzle. In any given story about Jesus, there are one, two, three or even four descriptions of the event (e.g., his crucifixion), and different things are highlighted in each Gospel.

The same is true with the birth of Jesus. We have different Gospel accounts that describe his birth, and we can pull them together like detectives to reconstruct a scene, a testimony, a story.

I love doing that with the Gospels: Pulling all the pieces together to reconstruct a particular story. Have you ever tried that? It's fun! 

A few years ago, then, I reconstructed the nativity story using the Gospels to determine the order in which things happened. Every December since then I have read the story in this particular order. I sit by my sparkling Christmas tree on an early December morning, morning after morning, and I read the story ... Sipping tea, and thinking about how amazing it was that God came to earth.

Fully human; fully God.

As I read, I do this:

  • I highlight in the scriptures any phrases that tell me who Jesus was, or what he was about.
  • I notice the things that were spoken about him by people like Simon, or Anna the prophetess in the temple.
  • I ask myself why we are told about his lineage twice, and why those two lineages are different. I wonder what it is God wants us to know.
  • I think about John the Baptist and what his purpose was.

And so on, and so on. It is such a rich story, I will never get bored of reading it.

So now, my friends, here's my order of reading the nativity story, and perhaps you might like to follow along with this reading plan sometime?

Luke 1:5-80: The story of Elizabeth, Zacharias, and Mary

John 1:1-14: The story of the Word becoming flesh, and John the Baptist

Matthew 1:1-25: The story of Mary and Joseph

Luke 2:1-40: The birth of Jesus

Matthew 2:1-23: A short time afterwards, the wise men, Herod's attack and the family's flight to Egypt

Well, ENJOY the nativity story!

What does it mean to you? What are you longing for this Christmas?

I'd love to hear your heart.

Ann

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

Christmas with Ann and Lynn

Merry Christmas!

If you are unable to see the video, click here: https://youtu.be/bt3_mBTu158

 

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

A Delightful Routine

Hello SUMites Lift our eyes

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

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

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

What a great answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love to you all

Ann

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

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

Christmas Traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas to you all!

And Happy Birthday Jesus! 

 

 

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

When a Song Breaks Out

SUM family, Ann here and it's my first post for December. SONG

Woohoo!

December, for me, has a beautiful routine attached to it:

Throughout the year I keep a detailed journal of my days with God. I journal carefully about the things that happen in my life, any scriptures that I notice from the Bible that day, and anything that I sense God saying.

Well, on 1 December I always begin to re-read my journal for the past year. I sit in the early morning in my living room, before my family wake up; the lights on the tree are sparkling, and I feel at peace. As I open the journal and begin at 1st January of that year -- I embark on a big month of reflection. 

What on earth happened this year, Lord, and what did you do in my life?

What do you want me to remember?

This morning I noticed a beautiful word that I'd written in my journal. It was a word of hope that I wrote on the first day of our community fast last year, in January. I'd been chatting to God about the SUM ministry, and this is what I sensed from him: 

In places where the faithless mill around, we are going to see songs breaking out.

A song will break out.

It's going to come to our houses.

It's a song that will break out amongst the unfaithful, the really really unfaithful.

The song is this:

'Thine be the glory, risen conquering son. Endless is the victory, thou over death has won."

I notice this morning that when the shepherds saw an angel who told them about Jesus's birth, all of a sudden a song broke out there and then in the field -- Right there, in their place of daily ordinariness.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:13-14, NKJV)

I can picture that raucous breaking out -- Of song!

Hang in there SUMites, I believe that everything we stoke -- all our prayers, all our love for our family -- will result in a song of faith breaking out.

In the meantime, it is now a month to celebrate and focus on the birth of our Savior -- The risen, conquering Son.

Love you all, SUMites!

Ann

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