Let's Talk about Love

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Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

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

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

Knowledge and Action

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

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

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

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

We all share the same purpose

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

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

That’s it. For all of us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grace and peace

 

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


ANNOUNCEMENT & CONGRATULATIONS

SUMites, Lynn here.

I can't do this alone.

IMG_1841I can't run the SUM ministry by myself. I need help just as Moses had Aaron and Hur to hold up his arms when he couldn't, I've been blessed by tremendous people to assist in ministry throughout the years. 

And in the past year or longer, Ann Hutchison, from the great nation of New Zealand, has assisted me in so much. Most of you know Ann, as she is a writer and a regular broadcaster on Facebook. But I know Ann as a woman sold out for God and on fire to help others on the path of the spiritually mismatched. Truly she's wholly here because she loves you and love Jesus.

So, I'm making it official, today Ann is stepping into the Director role here at SUM. She's already been carrying this responsibility for a year or more. So, I'm way behind in acknowledging her. 

Congratulations Ann. I adore you and I know you are bringing hope and help to others through Jesus Christ.

Take a look at Ann's videos on YouTube. Also, support her on our Social Media. Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Give her a high five and encourage her as I lean more upon her to march our ministry forward. Also, I'm not going anywhere. Your stuck with me. I'm merely dividing my time between here and my Kingdom blog.

Love you SUMite Nation. You are the most courageous and love-filled people I know! WELL DONE! Hugs, Lynn

 


In My Circumstances Did I Learn to Love?

By Ann Hutchison Did I learn to love

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh dear! 

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

Importantly, God tells me to LOVE. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next week!

Ann

* Not her real name


ANNOUNCMENT by Lynn Donovan

Martha F. BushSUMite Nation:

I have a few announcements and a few changes to let you know about.

First, I would like to thank Ann and Tiffany for the stellar Summer Bible Study series. It was fascinating to view the truths of the Bible through a different lens. Often, we can become stymied in our thoughts and beliefs in our presumptions about the Word. My experience, now over decades, leads me to know that the Word of God is living and active. There is new revelation to be found over and again.

What a blast to live in the Kingdom. It’s never boring.

I would also like to share a few changes that happened in July. First, Martha Bush stepped down from writing at SUM and has joined me to write at Lynndonovan.com. Currently I’m writing about Biblical healing, Jesus Heals the Soul, etc. You should pop over as this is where I’m writing about Kingdom concepts.

Here is the current series:

Jesus – A Study of the Triune God
Jesus – The Shepherd
Rescuing Back our Kingdom Identity
Jesus, Our Healer – Part 1
Jesus Heals the Soul

And please click on the top of the page and subscribe to receive posts in your inbox.  Thank you.

I want to thank Martha for how she served the Lord through writing her and how she continues to show up in the comments and on Social Media.

I want to thank all of you for being my friends. Thank you for stepping into this community. It’s one of the most amazing online communities in the Kingdom. Truly.

Hugs, Lynn


Our Summer Study: It's a Wrap!

Hello friends, Ann here. It's a wrap

Today I wanted to write a final word on our Summer Study to properly wrap it up. We’ve spent the last few posts looking at Jesus and the Church as the ultimate spiritual mismatch. And prior to that we raced through so many Bible characters. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Truly, I won’t ever read those stories the same again.

Which story did you enjoy the most? Perhaps it was David who danced nearly naked while his wife, Michal tut-tutted? Or Abigail who had to dig deep living with one who was militantly against her cause? For me, it was Mary, who carried a ‘crazy story’, hoping to share it eventually. Sometimes that one feels like my life.

We talked about the fact that a spiritual mismatch can be mild or extreme. This reminded me that in church circles I don’t own the corner on spiritual mismatch. It’s tempting to walk round thinking I do, but in fact, Christian couples face aspects of it all the time.

You know, I have at least three Christian friends who have an intense call to ministry. Their Christian spouse doesn’t share the same call and would be perfectly content if it was all given up tomorrow. Where does that leave these friends of mine? It leaves them desperate to move forward. In love, of course.

In fact, when I do spend time with Christian couples, the more I realize that a relationship with God is a deeply private thing that many don’t fully share with their spouse. My parents are a case in point. Both are deep believers, but they do business with God separately. They read different resources and focus on different things. Sometimes it seems to me they’re in completely different spaces to each other, each on their own personalized path.

Marriage is a quirky thing. And the work of the Spirit is unusual.

How do we walk out faith when it feels so deeply individual? Our summer study has shown me one wonderful ingredient that I am seizing: A can-do attitude.

See, here's what I notice from the characters in our summer study:

  • David took a can-do attitude by deciding to continue playing his Christian music despite his wife's criticism.
  • Elizabeth took a can-do attitude by believing in her pregnancy despite no clear evidence for months.
  • Jael took a can-do attitude by smashing a nail into an army general’s head, despite the fact he was her husband’s ally.
  • Mary took a can-do attitude by saying “I’m in.” Enough said.
  • Abigail took a can-do attitude by loading up her goods and donating them to King David despite her husband's position.

My motto today, then, is “I’m in!” Ask of me what you like, Lord. And I have to say I see so much 'can-do' in this community here that it inspires me. In fact, here's to many more moments of us going for it, and saying to God: "Yes, I can do that!"

So friends, how did you enjoy the study? What spoke to you the most, or what was new for you? We'd love to hear your final comments now that we've wrapped it all up.

Apart from that, have a great weekend, everyone. Lynn will be back on Monday with our next post.


JESUS AND THE CHURCH ARE THE ULTIMATE MISMATCH

Wedding Supper of the LambLynn here. THIS IS FROM THE LORD!

The entirety of our years on earth are rushing, headlong toward ONE SPECIFIC DAY! A Day that’s been destined in our future for eternity. A day the has been promised before time began. The greatest day of all eternity!!!

The wedding supper of the Lamb!

And SUMITE NATION, we have been given a beautiful gift that most the rest of the world completely cannot grasp.

We have been walking this spiritual mismatch with a human spouse for years. AND, OH, WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW!

  • We understand what it feels like to be a spouse who loves in the face of pain, rejection, and disappointment. —Just like Jesus loves His Bride.
  • We feel deeply the struggle to build a moral family life, raise children and grow in our faith without the support of the one we chose to be our life partner. —Just like Jesus!
  • We pray without ceasing for our spouse of this world to be awakened and embrace the Living and True God. —Just like Jesus!
  • We sacrifice dreams of life together in harmony, church attendance, strong family and ministry with our spouse. —Just like Jesus!

WE THE UNEQUALLY YOKED. We understand Jesus. He lives in this scenario with 7.5 billion human souls that He died to save, heal, and set free. We see it so clearly. We understand Jesus. We know how He feels. He grieves over the lost and broken of this world, the spiritually mismatched Bride.

But through the long years of faithful perseverance we comprehend the heart of Christ for us, our family, our spouse, and humanity.

  • And just like Jesus, we will never surrender hope and will fight hell itself for the souls of those we love.
  • And just like Jesus, we will always believe a heart and a home can and will be redeemed and changed.
  • And just like Jesus, we know without-a-doubt that all things are working for our good to the glory of the Father.
  • And just like Jesus, we believe that it’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance.

Today, and every day, we continue to stand in the gap for a lost generation of spouses that are cloaked in darkness. And we stand alongside Jesus.

My SUMite brothers and sister, we know this better that any other person on the plant. Because we live this out every…..single…..day.

Jesus always believed for us. And in response we have followed His example in very challenging and extraordinarily difficult marriages. And in seasons when our heart breaks and disappointment vows to swallow us up, just like Jesus, WE WILL NOT RELENT! Jesus will never stop hoping, interceding, protecting and believing for us.

We can, AND WILL, do the same for a lost and broken man or woman.

AND YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE WE ARE THE CHURCH!!!!!!!!

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

For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” —Revelation 19:6-9

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. —Hebrews 12:22-23

So what say you, Church??? Will you be at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Will you be standing by your spouse, your children, grandchildren and their children’s children?

This is this your legacy! YOU are the one person who took one small brave step into faith and you changed an entire family line for a thousand generations. Let revelation bring this profound truth of your life’s impact for the Kingdom of God into your reality today. Then sing, praise, and walk in complete faith.

We have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!! THAT is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Hallelujah!!!

I love you SUMite Nation! March ON!!!  The world is the Lords and we shall see every knee bow to the name of our beloved, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah. AMEN Hugs, Lynn


A Royal Wedding and Our Earthly Marriages

Hi friends, Ann here.

I remember, as a 5-year-old girl, being mesmerized by the wedding of Lady Diana and Prince Charles of England in 1981. Little girls are funny like that. They can be the ultimate dreamers. Knowing this, my mum bought me a little hard-backed book about the wedding and I would pore over it.  Ladybird book

Now, sometimes God romances us. I’d forgotten about that little book, but last night he brought it back to me by popping images of Lady Di's dress into my head. He seemed to be saying, “Remember this? Remember how much you liked it?” It was a sweet Father-God moment. "You're still that little girl to me."

Every detail of Lady Di's preparation was exquisite. It surely brings to life what it means when the Bible says Jesus is preparing for himself a glorious 'bride' (Ephesians 5:25-27).

It also brings to life a lesser known passage in scripture that has recently caught my attention. Ezekiel 16:9-13 describes the care that God takes when he is preparing a people who are his. It's worth reading a few times over: 

“ ‘I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine’ says the Lord God. 'Then I washed you in water; yes I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty' ” (Ezekiel 16:9-13, NKJV)

Sadly, this passage is followed by a description of how God’s people turned their back and it is yet another caution to us. As I said on Monday, 'Help us, Jesus!' But for today's post I think this scripture is a great one for illustrating the amount of effort and care Jesus puts into our beauty.

Often we won't see what Jesus is doing. During this COVID time, for example, we're having tough tests. But in it I am sure he is adorning us in different ways. He might be strengthening our faith, sharpening our eyes, refining our tongues, softening us in our mercy towards others, or making us more obedient. All of this happens through a shaking. Whatever needs doing in our faith lives, he will be doing it. If we yield to it, we will come out more beautiful than before.

As for our marriages, is there a lesson there? Well, it tells me that if Jesus makes that much effort to make me beautiful, shouldn't I also put the same effort into my husband?

What effort can I make? Here are a few thoughts that spring to my mind from scripture:

1. Pray for him every single day (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

2. Respect him with the words I speak to and about him (1 Peter 3:1-2)

3. Bless him with the words I speak about him (James 3:1-10)

4. Bring him truth with wisdom and kindness (Proverbs 31:14 & 26)

For sure, none of these points are easy because marriage is a place of growth. But with Jesus Christ adorning us and propping us up, we can give this thing a good go. 

How else can we put effort into our spouse’s spiritual life?  I would love to hear your ideas in the comments.


Jesus and the Church: The Ultimate Marriage Story

Hi friends, Ann here!Bride of Christ

I hope you've enjoyed our race through different Bible marriages this summer. We had much to look at and there were some marriages we didn’t even cover, such as Hosea's. Alas, summer is nearly over.

In the middle of this summer study I received a message from one of our friends, Libby Finan. Libby often has great words for this community, and what she said was this (paraphrased by me):

“I think I hear the Holy Spirit say that Jesus and the church are the ultimate unequal relationship. You could write about that next?”

“Sounds great!” I responded, ready to rise to the challenge. But where could I start? The one question I have is, "Lord, what are you wanting us to know?"

In scripture, as you know, there are a few passages about our Lord, Jesus, and his church, but we'll start with this one:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to Himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:25-33 (ESV)

Marriage, the joining of a man and woman surely is a mystery. It's delicious and difficult all in one go. But Jesus and the church being unequal? That is an interesting truth: Positionally, we are sanctified through our union with him. But in practice we might not always walk in line. Help us, Jesus! 

In our summer study we've considered different kinds of spiritual mismatch. We’ve noticed a mismatch can be nuanced or extreme. Sometimes it is simply that one partner is quicker to recognize the Holy Spirit than the other. Other times it’s more extreme. Perhaps it is like that for Jesus in his relationship with different Christians.

Jesus loves us. And he is not going anywhere. That we know. But just because he loves us it doesn’t mean he isn't grieved by some of his church's choices. This is hard to say, but in the New Testament it is a clear message. Revelation chapters 2 and 3, for example, set out various problems in the church, from being 'lukewarm' to 'loveless' to 'lawless' to 'dead'. It is a hard truth. In the midst of all this, Jesus wants a spotless bride. 

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, KJV)

If I reflect on this, I think about our heavenly bridegroom being delighted by parts of the church's progress, but also feeling her faithlessness in other parts. At times he will sit back, watch the church face the consequences of its choices, and grieve. 

And so, my friends, could it be that our experience of tenderly caring for a ‘more worldly spouse’ is exactly what Jesus does with his church? Does Jesus watch his church and think “I love them so much. I'm fully committed. But I wish their focus would be adjusted?” 

That’s convicting. In fact, when I started writing this post I didn't quite expect it would turn out this way. But hey. I will listen for more of his voice. Truly, listening is the best thing we can do, especially at this time when the world is going through something of a wake-up call and we need to represent him.

My prayer today, then, is this:

Lord Jesus, help me take care how I hear. Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in me. And Lord, make me the bride you want me to be. Always yours. Amen.

I'll be back on Friday, to talk about a different facet of Jesus and his church. Meanwhile, feel free to share in the comments any thoughts that come to mind. 

Ann


Abraham and Sarah - SUMITES in the Bible - Summer Bible Study

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! Sumites in the Bible

Today I want to talk about Abraham and Sarah. Before God changed their name, they were known as Abram and Sarai. It was to Abram that God spoke of some amazing promises. Let's take a look shall we?

Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

- - - - - - -

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, [a]your exceedingly great reward.”

But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I [b]go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one[c] born in my house is my heir!”

And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:1-6)

I want to highlight a couple of things here. In Genesis 12, these promises are very broad. I think of it as an eagle eye view. "Look at the big picture with Me. Look what I have to bestow upon you." What a good good Father! Showing His hand of mercy and favor over Abram. There is a lot of content that happens in between Genesis 12 and Genesis 15. Unfortunately I don't have the ability to go in depth into it. However, we see Abram inquiring of God.

This is where I often feel that I am with the Lord. God gives a promise. He speaks His plans for my destiny. I am encouraged. Life happens. I begin to wonder if I heard correctly. Don't you think this is where Abram was coming from as well? I am sure that he had much more time for contemplation and thought. BUT God! He steps in and calms Abram's wondering. I love that the Lord accounted Abram's belief for righteousness.

Notice in both of these conversations, Sarai is no where to be found. I wonder if Abram spoke to her of these things. In Chapter 16 we see the story pick up with Sarai hatching a plan. "I cannot have children, maybe I can bear a child through my maidservant." Here is where I interject a hard earned lesson. God's plan without God's timing is no longer God's will.

How many times have I heard a word from the Lord and taken things into my own hands? It is hard enough when we are left to our own devices. It is even harder when we don't necessarily have our spouses to discuss the "God things."

We know the story. Abram does what his wife asks. They get the result they wanted; however, this causes turmoil in the family. Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born. It was thirteen more years when God had another "promise" conversation with him. I won't post it all here but take a chance to read Genesis 17. Think of this as the microscopic view.

Notice in Genesis 17:19 what God says, "19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him." It was always God's intention to fulfill these great promises through not only Abraham but also Sarah. It is their partnership - their covenant marriage - that brings about the promise. And what a beautiful promise it is! Through their union, the next generation with bring these plans of God to fruition.

Think about the promises that God has given you. How amazing to think that the promise doesn't stop with you. I mean I am blown away when I realize how much God is a generational God! It isn't simply about me. It truly is great to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I love the Lord! But, my destiny goes far beyond my own one on one interaction with Him. The same goes for you. I want to wrap up with one of our key verses in the SUM community

"For 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 Corinthians 7:14

Take a look at the promises that God has given you. In what ways do you see God speaking those promises through you for your children, grandchildren, the next generations? We will not be around forever. These next generations are the future of our nations. How can we build them up and encourage and spur them on?

See you in the comments!


Learning to Love

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

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

Who we are

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

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

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

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

What Do we Do

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

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

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

Agape Love

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

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

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

Let’s see what Ruth says:

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

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

What about Us

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

Yes, let’s get practical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Write a letter to a friend.

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

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

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

 

 


Mary - SUMITES in the Bible - Summer Bible Study

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! Sumites in the Bible

Luke 1

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; [e]blessed are you among women!”

29 But [f]when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I [g]do not know a man?”

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

I have to admit that I didn't really think this story could be applied to me and my SUM. I merely thought this was an account of how Mary was chosen to become the mother of the Messiah. However, Holy Spirit has pointed out a few things to me. I hope to impart them on you today.

Isn't it interesting that the Angel of the Lord begins with such a respectful greeting? "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" Mary, probably in her teens, was immediately lavished with honor. This to me is really important. Think about the time and culture. Women and children were not regarded of high importance in society. Mary could have felt as though she isn't very special. Just a girl, betrothed to a man - it is what it is. Nothing to see here.

I'm not sure about you but as a mother of young children, I can easily believe the lie that "there's nothing to see here." I often feel overlooked and under valued. The day in and day out of life can sometimes cause me to question, "Do I make a difference?" But God! Through Holy Spirit, we can always be reminded that we are indeed highly favored! Jesus gave everything - even His life - to show us how much He wanted to be with us. We can and should truly rejoice!

Notice, when the Angel of the Lord spoke to Mary, Joseph was not present for the conversation. This calling from Heaven is one that would be life-altering for them. It would have ramifications in all aspects of life. It isn't something that could or should have been taken lightly. What boldness and dedication Mary had to have! Later on in the story of Mary and Joseph, we see that an Angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. He was powerfully awakened to the plan of the Messiah.

A couple of years ago, God revealed some things to me. Like Mary, my husband wasn't in on these conversations. I am not called to carry the Savior of the World in a surprise pregnancy. But, I had to decide whether or not I would trust God with the purpose and plan that He had for me - for my family. Would I actively pursue it? Would I defend it? Would I cherish it? Would I keep it?

As the believer in your marriage, I can imagine there are things that God has called you to do. I am sure that these words have caused both hope and heartache in your life. What hope to know that God delights in you and trusts you with His plans. What heartache to see the resistance, pride or doubt coming from your spouse. I have experienced both. 

I am still waiting for God to reveal these plans to my husband. I am waiting for an awakening. Oh how I would love for a dramatic experience with Angels and intervention from Heaven. Regardless of God's timing or ways, I believe with all my heart that my husband is right where He needs to be.

I want to close with these life changing words: For with God nothing will be impossible.

Let's talk in the comments. What gives you hope in the words that God has given you? How are you holding onto those words as you wait for those plans to come to pass?


This Woman in the Bible is a One-Hit Wonder

Hello friends, Ann here! Sumites in the Bible

Today I’m going to write something different than what we hinted at in the last post. The Holy Spirit changes our plans sometimes, and I believe he wanted us to look at this Bible character next.

Are you ready to meet her, this next one, this dark horse? Well, here we go: It’s Jael, who hammered a tent peg into the head of Sisera, Israel’s enemy, in the book of Judges.

Let’s read her story in Judges 4:1-24. The setting is Israel and it’s a dark time. It’s like the time we’re in now, actually, in that village life has ceased and the highways are empty (Judges 5:6-7). That’s eerily close to home. The evil King Jabin has oppressed Israel for some time but God’s servants are going into battle against the commander, Sisera, and they know they’ll win.

Now, the prophet Deborah foretells something sharp and curious:

“The Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” (Judges 4:9, NKJV)

It is unlikely she had any idea what this meant. But it was Jael. She was the one. And she was a SUMite.

Here’s how we know Jael was in a SUM: Scripture says specifically there was peace between the house of Jael’s husband and the evil king. To be fair to her husband, we can understand his choice. Alignment with Canaan seemed the safer option. But Jael’s heart held quiet allegiance to beloved Israel. 

Because her husband had aligned his house with the enemy, this made Jael a hidden weapon. My friends, have you ever thought of yourself that way? As a hidden weapon?

Here’s what happened next:

“Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Hebert the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.” (Judges 4:17)

Having the army general Sisera arrive would have been crazily intimidating. I'm picturing a big guy with muscles, uniform, and a hard attitude. But Jael was on the winning side and had three humble tools: (1) a bowl of milk, (2) a blanket, and (3) a tent peg.

At this point it's like a riddle: How can a bowl of milk, a blanket and a tent peg win the battle?

Here’s how. Sisera, having been drawn to her home, thinks he can camp there. Jael knows this and goes straight out to ensnare him. He comes in, she gives him the milk, and he’s like a cat with cream. Purrr. Her blanket comes out, and she covers him gently: "Here -- Hide here." THEN the time is right. Her shaking hands reach ... softly, softly ... (oh Lord God, I'm scared) ... for the tent peg and SMASH!! Her blow is targeted and the tent peg drives through his head into the ground.

This woman of power made impact. Through her tools and her courage.

SMASH.

What does the Lord say next? Not only is she blessed among women, but she is most blessed (5:24). Blessed is she among women in tents (v. 24) It’s similar to the words spoken to Mary: ‘Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ (Luke 1:28).

My friends, this speaks volumes about our strength as SUMites. And perhaps these lessons apply:

  1. Sometimes it’s because of the placement of your spouse that you can rescue more than just your household.
  1. You can become a hidden weapon against the enemy.
  1. Spiritual warfare involves us recognizing simple and humble tools. 

I’ll finish with the following song verse about Jael, which celebrates her. There is much to celebrate. My prayer right now is, "Lord, make me like her when I grow up!"

“Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; Blessed is she among women in tents. He asked for water, she gave milk; She brought out cream in a lordly bowl. She stretched her hand to the tent peg, her right hand to the workmen’s hammer; she pounded Sisera, she pierced his head, she split and struck through his temple. At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; at her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell dead.” (Judges 5:24-27)

Now for your comments: Do you relate to Jael? What speaks to you in this story today?


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


Who Is Abigail? SUMites of the Bible Summer Study

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comTodays passage, 1 Samuel 25.

Abigail was married to a wicked, unbeliever, Nabal (Hebrew name means mean, base, vile, unbeliever) who denied support to the future King of Israel. And if you read through 1 Samuel 25 again today, you will notice how much this woman was a woman of deep faith. And just as it is today when we face enormous challenges and situations, that we often cannot change, it’s our faith that develops and lives strong within. Hallelujah.

Now we know David sent men to ask for supplies after protecting the House of Nabal all summer. Nabal denied all provision and insulted the men who then turned back and told David all about it. David, being a passionate man, arose, dawned a sword along with 400 of his gang and set out to kill and ransack the House of Nabal.

Fortunately, the servants, by the way the servants always know what’s really going on. That’s why it’s great to be a servant of God. Well, they servants alerted the one person who was wisest of all on the ranch, Abigail, the Godly wife of this wicked man.

Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs (=60 pounds) of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. – 1 Samuel 25:18-19

Wow, so much in these two verses. Abigail acted quickly. She “KNEW” what to do because she lives in intimacy with God and follows His voice. And interestingly she didn’t tell her husband. Could it be that there are times we just need to take action and we don’t need to pass everything we want to do for God by our unbelievers? I’m just asking?????

I’ll share my experience here. YES, there are times that I’ve made decisions to send someone money or to tithe into the Kingdom or to give something I own to someone else because it’s the right thing to do. And I didn’t run it by Mike. Now, I didn’t give away the car or our dog. But I’ve over the years I’ve chosen to give and Mike was gleefully oblivious. It’s okay. Just don’t give away the house without consulting your spouse. *humorous grin*

I love Abigail. She immediately sets out with a tremendous amount of provisions toward David. She finally meets up with him and listen to her words:

Vs. 28-31 - “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

Wow, look at how her faith in God. It's at the center of her life. She knows what God is doing and is affirming her belief to David.

David responds: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands 1 Samuel 25:32-33

There are a number of lessons we can take from the life of Abigail:

  • Abigail responded quickly. She didn’t let fear of the potential geocide nor her vile husband stop her from responding rightly and with haste.
  • She had wisdom from heaven to know what to do. She provided the supplies and the “honor” that was appropriate.
  • She took responsibility herself even though she didn’t create the toxic situation.
  • She humbled herself and sought mercy.
  • Eventually she discusses the events the following day with her husband AFTER he sobered up.
  • She did what was right without knowing there was a rescue around the corner.

My dear SUMites, is Abigail’s story in the Word just for us? Is her example our example. Is her faith our faith? Do we choose to do the right thing in our difficult marriages?

Oh the Word of God, it makes us look deep within and challenges us at the core. I love Abigail and I can’t wait to meet her in heaven one day. She isn’t merely a character in a book. She is/was a real woman who we will one day meet face-to-face. I can’t wait to sit at her feet and ask her questions. What a blast that will be.

Okay, what do you think about our Abigail? What details did I miss about her character and response. Do you agree with what she did. How do we take her example and apply it to our modern marriages and life?

Next post: What about Nabal? What happens to Abigail and where does this leave David?


Here's One For the History Books - Literally- SUMites in the Bible

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSUMers, I could write for days about 1 Samuel, chapter 25. Whoa. There is so much in here. So, get a cup, sit down, strap in, and hold on as we jump in and learn from God’s Word. Hallelujah!

PLEASE go read the chapter, click here for the NIV version. I’m going to be teaching from the NIV as well as the One New Man Bible which is a direct rendering from the Hebrew. Ahhhhh, we are granted a rich and deeper understanding when we look at the original language.

The setting: The books of Samuel are a history of the Priesthood in Israel and the Kings of Israel. It’s the telling of how the people of God left Him as their King and turned to an earthly King. Samuel means heard of God. This was because his mother prayed for a baby and God heard her. Read that story, it’s awesome as well.

Let’s start with the couple we will be reading about today:

Nabal: The Greek meaning from the NIV, fool. Ah, yep we knew it *grin*. Hebrew: Naval, means mean, base, vile, unbeliever. (Whoa, didn’t know that. So interesting.)

Abigail: NIV describes her as an intelligent and beautiful woman. But I LOVE the Hebrew rendering of her name, Avigayil means, My Father rejoices exuberantly. And she is described as a woman of good understanding and beautiful countenance. There is a striking difference here, in that the Hebrew describes her spirit and the Greek describes her physically. Interesting. Personally, I believe her countenance is what provided her with tremendous influence and also favor with God. Her favor with God brought her great understanding and wisdom.

David: In this portion of the story David is an outlaw. Truly, he is being hunted by the King, Saul, who has been abandoned by God. What I find fascinating about David is that he led a band of marauders who ransacked entire towns, killing the people and taking all the spoils. Say WHAT??????

Does that bother anyone else?

Well, let’s add to the understanding. Most of the people of Israel know David. Remember the army watched this 12 year-old-boy defeat the Philistines as David slew Goliath. They knew Samuel anointed him to be King. They knew of his exploits in battle to defeat the enemies of the Crown. And this is all in line with God’s purpose and plans. God still intended Israel to cleanse the Promised Land of the filth of the nations who practiced divination, idol worship, and who sacrificed their own children in the fire to Molech. And if you know anything about this practice, it’s absolutely revolting. Trust me on this.

So, David’s ransacking may not have been an evil in the eyes of God. ---- Doesn’t the Bible really mess with your head?---- That’s a good thing.

Another note I find fascinating is that Nabal is described as a mean, vile, and an unbeliever with whom no one can reason. Wow, I wonder how many of us know people like that??? And in this scenario in 1 Samuel 25 he is living up to his reputation. I wonder, however, how many of us would reject helping someone because a person was an outcast of society, a law breaker, an intentional defiler of all that we adhere to? Dang, I like to ask the challenging questions. *grin*

An overall summary of this passage is David protected Nabal’s men while they shepherded the flocks during the summer. Come fall and harvest, David needed provisions and naturally assumed he would be rewarded for his service. Nabal said, “No way. I’m not giving anything to a gang of fugitives.” Even though he knew David was anointed the next King and was likely aware that he protected his men and possessions.

At the core here is absolute arrogance and greed. And likely a lifetime of little repentance, consequence, nor love for others. People of great wealth rarely face consequence. It's a travesty that leads many of wealth into a poverty of soul.

God is so patient. Even waiting for a man like Nabal to experience a change of heart. Even giving to him a wise and beautiful wife and a life of comfort. The truth surrounded Nabal each and every day. He chose to ignore the truth: David will be King and this future King had protected his possessions and servants. Nabal was selfish and felt untouchable. What is fascinating about this scenario, Nabal was going to die either way.

Now it’s easy to go down this road that my spouse looks like Nabal. Don’t do it. Most of us are married to good men and women who are honorable and love us. Even if we might think they could do a better job of it.

What the real story in the chapter is all about is Abigail. And I can’t wait to talk with you about this woman.

Okay, did I mess with your head looking into the introduction of this story? I hope so, *grin*. What do you think about the Nabal? Why is the Lord sharing so much of this man’s character, his name, his behavior? I really want to hear your opinions. There is wisdom in here. Let Jesus show you. And I’ll see you in the comments. And I can’t wait to chat about Abigail next time.

Hugs, Lynn


Rising From The Ashes - A Legacy for Generations To Come

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! Sumites in the Bible

Can you just feel these great cloud of witnesses surrounding the SUM community? Who knew there were such wonderful stories written in God's love letter to us. What an honor to be a part of such a bunch!

We began the week talking about Lois, Eunice and Timothy. I could write so much more than a blog post about these wonderful characters but I want to focus on something that I said on Monday:

Eunice was a Jewish woman. I wonder the stigma that would have come upon her as she chose to marry this Greek man. Did it make it hard to go to the marketplace? What about the synagogue? Did she fear being disowned by Lois for an "unclean" marriage? I wonder what went through her mind as she found out she was pregnant with her son, Timothy. Did she hear that familiar lying voice, "You really screwed this up. This is not what God wanted for you. You failed. Game over."

I was a prodigal when I found my husband. I was running away from the Lord; trying my best to ignore His mercy, love, and grace. We found out we were pregnant out of wedlock. That was the moment that the consequences to my decisions became real to me. We got married shortly before my son was born. I knew that I hadn't followed God's way before marriage. I was raised in the church, my grandparents were pastors when I was young. I was involved in church basically my entire life. I felt the weight of guilt and shame. I knew God's standards of purity. That familiar lying voice rang through my heart and mind, "You really screwed this up. This is not what God wanted for you. You failed. Game over."

Like the Jews and Greeks did then, SUMites face culture clashes, differing values, and sometimes opposing religious beliefs - all within the confines of our own home. It can feel like we are living one foot on Earth and one foot in Heaven. I have to admit that for a while I believed the lies of the enemy. This caused a great bitterness to rise up within me against my husband. In many ways I made life hell for him - constant nagging, criticism, anger, disinterest in getting close to him. It was a dark time.

I quickly realized the importance of raising my children to know the Lord. It was the birth of my two children that steered me back to God. I knew that if I was charged with teaching them about the Kingdom, I had to first truly live it myself. I couldn't teach what I didn't know. 

There is something about our SUM marriage that gives us a higher perspective on raising the next generations. We have the ability to see life through a unique lens. We can see the world's point of view as we live and interact with our spouses. We can see the Kingdom's point of view as Holy Spirit lives in us. But, how do we set the foundation so that our children walk in the Kingdom?

Let's look at five practical things we can put in our parenting tool belt:

  1. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we accepted Jesus into our heart, we not only gained salvation; but we received a Helper. Holy Spirit is our guide. He points us to Jesus. In John 14:26, Jesus said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." If we want to teach and train our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), we should ask Holy Spirit to teach and train us.
  2. Be bold enough to live out your faith. Our children, especially at a young age, watch our every move. The years that they live at home are crucial. I am blessed to be able to attend church, teach my children about Jesus, play worship music in the home. This is not to brag. I know that not everyone has this luxury. However you are able, model what it means to be a lover of Jesus. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to "practice" your faith in front of your children. When you sing to the Lord, do it so your children can see what it looks like. When you pray, do so aloud so that your children can see how easy it is to talk to God.
  3. Be forgiving. This is a hard one. I constantly find myself in this classroom. It starts with yourself. Then your spouse. Then your children. I had to ask God to show me how He views me, my husband, children, and marriage. It is amazing to see how quickly our temperament and mindset changes once we are looking through God's eyes.
  4. Be consistent. One of the biggest ways I have had to live this out is attending church. When my kids were babies, it was much easier to pack them up in the car and head to church. My son just turned 7 and my daughter just turned 6. I've had to deal with a couple of times when my kids haven't wanted to go to church. They miss their daddy or they yearn for him to come. I noticed it more when we had to livestream church during Covid lock down months. My daughter was much more apt to come downstairs and sit with me. My son would rather be upstairs playing. Getting back to church was hard. My son wanted to stay home. I had to have an honest conversation with them both. One that my grandmother had with me. "It doesn't matter what we feel like or what we want to do. We go to church on Sunday because we love God. We love Jesus. We CHOOSE to go because of our love for Him. Even if we don't feel like it, we go to church to honor Him." Having that conversation with my kids not only modeled what devotion to Jesus looks like. It also keeps me accountable on those days when I am fighting the temptation to stay home.
  5. Be a prayer warrior. The best thing we can do is pray - pray - pray! Pray with your children. Pray for your children. Pray over your children. Pray without ceasing. Notice I didn't say a prayer worrier. In our prayer, we don't have to be afraid or fear. The best place that our children can be is in God's hands! Pray with confidence; thanking God for these beautiful gifts. Speak over their lives. Speak their destinies over them. Like Lynn loves to say - bless them like crazy!

There are so many more things we could add to this list but as usual, I've gone a little long. Let's talk in the comments. What are some tools that you've used to lay Kingdom foundation for your children? I'd love to add to my armory.


Two Women And A Baby - A Story Of Hope For Our Children

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! Sumites in the Bible

I want to continue our summer study with the story of Lois, Eunice and Timothy.

There isn't much in reference with Timothy's upbringing; however what is mentioned speaks volumes of these two women.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. - 2 Timothy 1:5

But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. - 2 Timothy 3:14-15

To better relate to the characters in this story, we have to first dig a little bit into the context in which it is written. We find a bit about Timothy's heritage in Acts 16:1. Here it is discovered that his mother was Jewish and his father was Greek. During this time period there was a lot of division between the Jews and Greeks. These two people groups had different religious beliefs, cultural upbringings, and value systems. Two worlds collided; sometimes erupting in violence. This brings deeper meaning to Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew  nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Eunice was a Jewish woman. I wonder the stigma that would have come upon her as she chose to marry this Greek man. Did it make it hard to go to the marketplace? What about the synagogue? Did she fear being disowned by Lois for an "unclean" marriage? I wonder what went through her mind as she found out she was pregnant with her son, Timothy. Did she hear that familiar lying voice, "You really screwed this up. This is not what God wanted for you. You failed. Game over."

Nothing is really mentioned about Timothy's father which would suggest that he had passed away before Paul had come into Timothy's life.  According to our scriptures above, we know that Timothy was taught the Scriptures from childhood. He was a part of a family who knew God's word. Without knowing when his father passed away, it is hard to say how much upbringing he had from his Greek side. His father must have had some say because Timothy was uncircumcised upon meeting Paul.

I love to wonder and imagine things from the Bible and this story is one of them. I can't say for sure but I like to imagine the first encounter that these two woman and a "baby" had with Paul and Barnabas. Acts 14, two men come into town. They have the ability to heal the sick and lame. Lystra, steeped in Greek culture, the residents believe that they are gods and proceed to try and offer sacrifices to them. In dismay Paul and Barnabas plead with the people - we are mere men! We come with good news about Jesus Christ! The crowd becomes angry and stones Paul; leaving him for dead. Wouldn't you know that after some prayer and intercession, Paul gets up and walks back into town.

What a movie scene that would be. This young man, Timothy, witnessing this freshly beaten man - strolling back into his hometown after a brutal beating. I can picture the awe and wonder in Timothy's mind. Can you see the powerful testimony of the good news preached some time before. Who is this Jesus? Could He be the messiah we had been waiting for?

Thankfully this story of two women and a "baby" ends in triumph. In fact, did you know that the name Eunice means "conquering well" and "good and joyous victory?" The fact that Timothy become so well respected in town shows the diligence to raise a man of character. Paul was so impressed that he asked Timothy to join him in ministry.

This is a great story of hope for you and me!

I've gone a little long so we will pause for today. On Thursday we will talk about some practical steps we can glean from these two woman and a "baby."

Let's talk in the comments. What has God been revealing to you in our summer study? What newfound hope have you found for your marriage and parenting through these stories?


The Story of David and Michal

A warm welcome to any new readers of the blog today! My name's Ann, and we are in the middle of a study of marriages in the Bible with a faith difference. I hope you enjoy it as you read along.
Sumites in the Bible

As for our regular readers, I so enjoyed reading your comments and insights on Monday's post. Keep them coming!

Now, today's couple is David and Michal. Unlike Elizabeth and Zacharias (from Monday's post), David and Michal seem to be a classic couple with a clear faith difference. If we turn to 2 Samuel 6:16-23, we see David dance to the Lord, a whirling passion that came straight from his hunger for his Lord. Michal, meanwhile, looks out of an upstairs window and despises his faith. I wrote a little about that back in March -- You can re-revisit it here.

Essentially, Michal sees David dance and comes out with a cutting comment about his worship. She was not right to do so. But today I wanted to ask the question: Could it have been avoided?

Here's the thing: Michal had a raw deal. Her relationship history with David is shown in the Bible, and we can see that somewhere along the way it turned into a bit of a disaster. The day she looked out of the window and despised David might have been the culmination of a few things.

Early on she loved David (1 Samuel 18:20). These are sweet words. Perhaps he loved her too: To win her hand he was asked by King Saul (her father) for 100 Philistine foreskins (1 Samuel 18:25-27). That's some commitment. 

They started out settled, but then disaster struck: David had to go on the run from Saul; Saul married off Michal to another man. David was busy surviving for so many years, and then when he became King there were wars to fight, alliances to make. Years went by before he saw Michal again, and by that time he'd married six new wives!

Only AFTER marrying the six wives does David manage to get Michal back, snatching her from her new husband who follows her weeping (2 Samuel 3:13-16). We don't know if she loved the second husband, or what her will was; but as I write this I think to myself, 'Would any woman be happy to be one of seven, when previously she was the only one?' Biblical times were different, but I just can't imagine this being fun.

The thing is, men were meant to be husbands of one wife. God gave Adam one woman: Eve. It wasn't Adam and six women. Centuries later, admittedly the heroes of faith like David and Jacob did have more than one wife; but while God honored them for their open hearts of faith and their many acts of obedience, their sexual actions did have some dysfunctional consequences. Perhaps it was simply that they were products of their society.

My hunch, in any case, is that all this drama that Michal went through didn't help.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself." Ephesians 5:25-28 (NKJV)

Could it be possible that Michal's heart may have been hardened more than it otherwise would have been? She had the choice to receive God or reject him, as we all do, and scripture makes it clear that God made her barren because she rejected David's worship (2 Samuel 6:23). She was certainly in the wrong. But, could it have looked different?

As a man after God's own heart I imagine that David constantly grew in his honor of others, including his wives. After all, in this very story he moved straight away to bless his house after dancing for the Lord (2 Samuel 6:20). But I just wonder about that history and the brokenness it might have caused Michal. For me, I guess it's a reminder to cherish my own husband at every single turn, so that nothing I do -- oh I hope nothing -- gets in the way of his ability to love God.

Over to you, friends, for your insights. I'm looking forward to chatting more.


Welcome Listeners of Chris Brooks on Moody Radio

Marching Around Jericho Cover 3DIt’s an honor and privilege to share with the listeners on the Equipped show with Chris Books, Moody Radio, the amazing journey I took marching around Jericho and my unsaved spouse's faith journey. Chris is an amazing host and our conversation covered many aspects of living and praying for our unsaved spouses.

VISIT THE BROADCAST PAGE: Praying For Your Unsaved Spouse.
Chris Brooks & Lynn Donovan

The broadcast interview will be Tuesday, July 7 from 1 to 2 pm CENTRAL; 11-12 noon PACIFIC time. Visit the station and listen in: Moody Radio

Welcome to all who have come to this church without walls, to find love, encouragement and hope for your marriage.

If you are new, grab your copy of Marching Around Jericho, and start your march this week. Also, visit our new here page and find our community. Leave a prayer request in the comments and we will pray for you. You can connect in a number of ways through the blog comments, on Facebook, Instagram.

If you want more information and free resources to help you on your march visit, MarchingAroundJericho.com. Click on the Equipping center.

Chris brooks Equipped

I’m deeply thankful to Chris Brooks and Moody Radio for allowing me to share the hope I have. And to share that we can learn to love, live and thrive in faith and our marriages while we pray for our spouse’s salvation

Love and hugs, Lynn Donovan

Start your march today, MarchingAroundJericho.com

You can find more of my Kingdom teaching at lynndonovan.com


Summer Study: Let's Look at Elizabeth and Zacharias

Hello SUM family, welcome to our summer study! Sumites in the Bible

It’s Ann here, and this whole month we’re going to be looking at different couples in the Bible who had a faith difference. Today, I have the pleasure of kicking it off, and so let’s turn to Luke 1 to meet our first couple: Mr and Mrs Zacharias – That is, Elizabeth and Zacharias. We know the story well, but is there a SUM twist to it?

We find them living a settled life with friends and neighbors. Having each grown up in tradition they were always on the same page (Luke 1:6), but one day – Oh SHOCK– the power of the Kingdom broke in and divided them. Aggh!

That 'breaking in' involved the barren and elderly Elizabeth receiving a miracle pregnancy. The Lord put a seed of faith inside her, she conceived and, SUMites, we all know what happens next. A seed of faith comes into a marriage and it does interesting things – One spouse can respond quite differently to the other, which then has different consequences for each.

Now, Elizabeth and Zechariah were each given the opportunity to believe this miracle, but faith is belief in things unseen (Hebrews 11:1) and for Zacharias it was just such a stretch. His go-to response was to say a ‘logical’ “Yeah? ... er....  Nah.” An angel was right in front of him telling him the GOOD NEWS, and yet he questioned it. Not even the visible presence of the supernatural could crack him. I'm smiling a little at that because I know what that looks like.  

He says: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” And he receives a response:

“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.” (Luke 1:19-20; NKJV)

Now, here's the SUM part: In the same passage, Elizabeth’s response is pointedly different. She says, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” (v. 25), choosing to hide herself -- go deep with God -- for five months in wonder. Although it is unclear what then happened with Zacharias, the contrast between the two of them is a symbolic part of the story.

Elizabeth and Zacharias are then catapulted into strange things, and who knows how much is seen by the relatives and neighbors. Often a SUM situation is kept quietly in a home, a deeply private thing between man and wife. It’s something you often can’t explain to others. All the while, Elizabeth endures a spiritually intense time: Five months of believing something with no physical evidence is probably very difficult but does something profound to her. Emerging from her secret place (Psalm 91:1), she eventually begins to pour out the Holy Spirit:

“ ... and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice –" (Luke 1:41-42)

She speaks. He stays mute. My friends, how much is this like our life? But then the effortless way in which the Holy Spirit pours out of her is her visible reward for time spent believing.

The words Elizabeth spoke, in turn, were a banquet for the lonely teenage Mary, who had herself been divinely connected to Elizabeth for Kingdom purposes (Luke 1:26-36). Elizabeth’s faith propelled Mary into being able to understand her own difficult walk and to say: “My soul magnifies the Lord!” or, "Oh, Praise God!"

It occurs to me that God took Elizabeth on this lonely path so that she could support another. And so I ask, today, “Who am I here for, Lord, during this SUM time?” It doesn’t matter that my beloved Zacharias is on his own path; God has stuff for him ahead, but he also has stuff me to do so I will roll up my sleeves and get on with it.

I love this story and hope you enjoyed this first post in our study. Now over to you -- It would be great to chat in the comments. What thoughts would you like to share?


Hungry For More? This Video and Field Guides Are For You

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

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

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

AND, want to understand our authority over the demonic? Those videos include:

  • Module Three
    Understanding the Demonic
  • Who Is Our Enemy?
  • Legal Rights
  • Generational Curses/Word Curses/Land Curses
  • The Occult
  • Witchcraft
  • Angels, The Good Guys

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


Graves into Gardens

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Photo courtesy of Rob D and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear SUMite friends, Ian from wintry Sydney here. It's just turned July 1 here and it's incredible that half the year has already passed. Who could have anticipated what would go down this year? As I've mentioned previously, the Lord put on my heart the word, 'Awakening', in January but I had absolutely no sense of what that meant. Much has occurred for me personally, but it pales compared to all the global events.

Awakening

There is an awakening happening across the globe and it's important for us to hold on to the belief that God is in charge. And good has come out of these difficult times and will continue to I expect for years to come. 

Life for all of us is going to look different for a while, isn't it. Everything we're used to (outside of our homes) is having to be adjusted, whether it's the simple things like hugging friends, attending church, schooling for our kids, working out at gyms or eating at our favourite eateries. The list goes on.

Stay Connected

Even when it's challenging to be physically close, choose each day to stay connected with friends. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Schedule at least one contact per day - ring someone, Zoom/Facetime someone and be very present with them. Switch off other devices, email, clutter all around you so you can be fully focused on your friend. And be slow to share rather ask questions seeking to listen and care for your friend. Your turn will come to share, maybe not this time but the next.
  2. Embrace solitude with God - enables us to simply pause and take some time out from the world, family. Breath deeply a couple of times and try to clear your mind. There are a lot of apps that help us do this but I'll refer you once again to John Eldredge's One Minute Pause app which I and a number of my friends have found particularly beneficial in these crazy times.
  3. Encourage someone today - I have a saying that 'everyone needs a Barnabas in their life' and I try to be one every day. It can be as simple as a smile to a passer by, a quick check in to your neighbour, a text message with a heart emoji ("I'm thinking about you") or a note to say well done. Don't seek a thank you. God knows, that's all that matters. 

Worship

Who loves singing worship songs? At home? In the car? It's good isn't it! It awakens (that word again) our hearts and pours faith and belief into us.

I expect many of us will have seen the various collaborative versions of Kari Jobe/Cody Carnes "The Blessing"; the churches down under even did a version which I love. But it's this one from Elevation Church that is particularly relevant for these times.

Sing along and believe these lyrics because our Lord does indeed "turn graves into gardens, bones into armies, seas into highways and mourning to dancing" We are living in a moment in history that God has deemed for us to live in and oh, the wonder we are going to see. 

Get ready!


Announcing our Summer Study!

Hi friends, Ann here!

The sun is shining as I write from down here in New Zealand, and it’s even more summery up in the Northern Hemisphere. So, with the sun beaming I’m happy to announce we are about to launch into our annual summer Bible study.Sumites in the Bible

This year we’re going to do something a little different. Instead of doing what we normally do and taking a book to work through, this time we're going to take a trip through scripture to examine some of the spiritually mismatched marriages that lie within the pages of the Bible. Yes, we’re taking a look at SUMites in the Bible.

Were there many of them? We’ve thought up a few. And then in some cases it seems that aspects of a marriage were spiritually mismatched without it being overtly mentioned. I wonder whether any particular Bible character springs to mind for you? If so, post in the comments – We’d be interested to see who you think of.

We’ll be kicking the study off next Monday, 6 July, and Lynn, Tiffany and I will be taking it in turns to write. So, have your cups of coffee and Bibles ready, pull up a chair, and let’s have some fun with this topic.

Till then!

Ann


Freedom Marchers Join us from England

It was awesome to spend time speaking with Maria Rodrigues in London, England. Maria is the host for Woman to Woman show on Premier Christian Radio. It was a fantastic interview. Thank you, Maria. You are a woman who God loves. Hope you can listen in as Maria and I discuss the real issues related to unequally yoked marriages. Hugs, Lynn


Radio Interview with Bob Crittenden on Faith Radio

Hello Kingdom Marchers,

Faith RadioI am a guest with Bob Crittenden, of The Meeting House on Faith Radio on June 23, 2020. Bob is an amazing host and he and I chatted about my journey with my husband through the circles around my Jericho. 

Bob is a fantastic host and we covered a lot of great information about how to pray for your unsaved spouse and how to help yourself as you love and honor both God and your marriage.

Bob's program can be heard online at Faith Radio between 4 pm - 6 pm (Central Daylight time).

Here is the link: Faith Radio, The Meeting House