March On -- We Win!

Ann here! March on

I've got a little story today that may make me sound bonkers. But I'm laughing as I write, because sometimes you've just got to die to yourself and tell the story. I hope it gives you a smile.

In my spiritually mismatched marriage, there was a real season of tears that lasted a number of years. 

To everything there is a season and a purpose under heaven: (Eccl 3:1)

A time to weep and a time to laugh (v. 4, NKJV)  

It wasn't that I didn't love my husband, but the spiritual mismatch itself was just so upsetting, uncomfortable, and stretching that I cried most days about it.

One day I was home alone thinking about it as usual and, yep, crying. I happened to put a CD on, and as I sniffled away a song began to play that was catchy. Words floated out:

Don't cry. Open up your eyes and know there's someone else out there that feels this way.

I'm singing to you 'coz I know what you've been through and it's not so long ago I felt the same.

Like soldiers, march on. If we can make it through the night we'll see the sun. March on, march on.

I leapt to my feet. "I am a soldier of Jesus Christ" I thought, and began to march on the spot. Well, I marched, marched, marched, and marched some more, snot-crying with a big man-sized hankie, and listening to those words Like soldiers, march on. The song finished, I put it on again and continued to march.

Honestly, I must have spent about twenty minutes marching on the spot in my living room. Good job no one could see me. But, bonkers as it may have seemed, it turns out it was a prophetic act.

A couple of years later Lynn Donovan, our founder of this ministry, announced that her husband Mike had got baptized after 27 years of her waiting for it. She announced it to the room at a SUM conference, and told us how the Lord had taken her on a seven-year march around Jericho before he suddenly said yes to baptism. 

That seven year march involved Lynn learning something new and specific each year in order to get the Jericho walls of her husband's unbelief to crash to the ground. What's more, God was asking her now to write a book about those seven years and call it Marching Around Jericho. Lynn with MAJ

The talk Lynn gave about her seven-year march and Mike's baptism is here. She marched .. and then Mike got baptized in March. Just because God is fun. It's as if he was saying 'Let's just have a complete marching theme here!'

When Lynn finally finished the book and had it published in December 2019, the book ended with these words on its last page:

March on, Warrior! We WIN!

March On? Well, that was the very name of the song I marched to: March On by the band Good Charlotte.

That little march in my living room was a foreshadowing of that great book and all that it has meant for our community. That book lifted our spiritual skills so that we could break through those Jericho walls. It also had - and has -- the power to change a season.

Yes, here on the blog many are still marching through that season of tears. That's why we need this ministry. But, in the words of that song, if we can make it through the night we'll see the sun. March on. March on.

Even when there's no one there for you, march on.

Even when the days are hard for you, march on.

Like soldiers, march on.

I'm going to finish with the song itself and, hey, if you're game why not have a march in your living room? It's Friday and we can be a little bonkers ((laughing)).

Ann


Sweet Gifts for a Grandmother's Faith

By Ann Hutchison  T M 2

You know, when it comes to my kids I've always found it super challenging to bring faith to them. In fact, it's no less challenging to bring faith to them as it is to bring faith to my husband.

Is it like that for many of you, I wonder?

Here's a pic of my precious two boys -- Travis and Miles. They are 17 and 16 and, like their Dad, they have not yet had a point in their life where they've said "Yes, I give my life to Jesus". That's not to say they haven't been exposed: Both boys were raised with me talking about God a lot. I would tell them God stories, I would pray for them, and I did take them to church for periods of time, but church never gelled for them and that part was a real struggle for me.

In his earlier years, my oldest used to express unbelief, or would challenge the existence of God. He's a very concrete person, geared around what he can see and touch directly. Those expressions of unbelief have now stopped, though - Interesting.

My youngest, meanwhile, joined church of his own volition a year ago too. THAT was amazing, and I shared that story here. He and I now attend church together, just the two of us. Still, with him I'm watching and wondering where he sits with it all. 

Well, two weeks ago something very special happened, because I saw a tiny shift happen separately for each boy in the space of one weekend. Glimmers of change. Mum Travis 2

I'll start with Travis. My Mum was visiting us and she and I happened to have the chance to go out for dinner on our own with Travis. It was a treat for her and I. As parents of teens know, it's nice to have the excuse to spend time talking with a willing teenager and we chatted about all sorts. Here's a nice photo from that night.

Well, partway through the evening, we started talking about Travis's friends and where they stand in their beliefs about God. He said, very casually, 'Yes, they've told me they don't believe in God, and I've told them I do believe in God.'

I've told them I believe in God.

Well that made me smile because I have never before heard him say that. And, when someone makes a statement like that it's a clear step forward to say 'My heart is open'. 

That was Friday.

Sunday rolled around, then, and my Mum and I drove with Miles (my youngest) to church. It was the first time my Mum had attended our church and she was looking forward to it. 

Our church doesn't do communion often, but they happened to have it that day. The leader said, "If you have received Jesus into your heart, then do come up and take some bread and wine". Miles was sitting on the other side of the room to us with one of his friends. I took a peek over thinking 'will he go?' and sure enough up he got, walked to the table, and took the bread and wine. He then went and sat down, and as I peeked over I could see he had his eyes closed, reflecting. It's the first time I've seen him take communion.

Like the statement his brother made - 'I believe in God' - Communion is powerful. It is the finest of feasts, and a way we can enter Him, by eating his body and drinking his blood. That day Miles took a step in the Heavenlies by receiving communion (Jesus). Mum miles 2

Later, my Mum and I were alone and I turned to her --

"Did you notice what Travis said in the restaurant?"

"Oh yes, I was going to say the same to you!" Her eyes sparkled back at me.

"And did you notice Miles took communion?"

"I DID! Yes, I noticed that too."

She and I grinned broadly.

My Mum has been a woman of faith since the 1970s, never wavering, never backsliding, and praying constantly for her family. It seemed somehow providential that she was there to witness those two new signs that my boys are getting there, that is, getting towards that momentous decision where they will say --

"Yes, I am going to give my life to Jesus."

Thanks for reading along today. For those of you who have kids, how old are they and how are things going faith-wise?

Ann


Shift our Focus - Part 4: Don't Walk Alone

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Photo courtesy of Abel Tan Jun Yang at Pexels.com

Hello dear friends. Ian, from a chilly Sydney here. First day of winter and the southern part of Australia has got caught in a cold snap that’s come up from Antarctica. Brrr …

This is the final part in my little series on shifting our focus away from ourselves and setting it on Jesus.

We’ve often talked about the challenges in our situations of being active participants in a Christian community. For many years, in fact too many, I chose to minimise my engagement in Christian community. As a result, I didn’t develop any meaningful relationships with other believers. I was doing life with Jesus alone.

And it was hard work.

God’s a Community

God is communal in His very nature- three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we are formed in His image. We were made to be communal. Irrespective of whether we’re introverts and find greater enjoyment being by ourselves, the there is a deep yearning with us to become all we were made to be. This can only be realised with others. We limit ourselves, our relationship with God, and our families and friends, if we choose to walk alone.

In addition, the enemy loves those who are separated from the pack. We see it in the animal world.  We become easier pickings if we are always walking alone. There’s no natural defensive barrier that being part of a group (even a small one) provides.

Receiving Love

For a whole variety of reasons, many of us have been starved of love in our lives. As a result, we’ve never learnt how to receive it well. This often will reveal itself in us not really opening ourselves up to others because we’re unsure how we’ll be received. “What if they find out what I’m really like?” I discovered this in my own life. I had inadvertently ‘closed’ myself of from others. I wasn’t allowing others to love me.

For men this is often a challenge. The lone-wolf is so common amongst men. Yes, we connect with others on the surface about our jobs, sports and other things we do. But when it comes to sharing real ‘heart’ stuff we will often avoid it. To such extent that I know men who can’t really describe what’s going on inside. If we’ve never really shared emotionally or vulnerably before, it kinda gets harder and harder the older we get. Simply because we don’t know how.

One of the joys of a communal life is fostering a deep mutual connection. This can only be realised when both parties are willing to receive.  A willingness to open up and allow others to love us, to teach us, be willing to sit at their feet and learn. This can involve moments of tremendous vulnerability. And learning to trust.

Pentecost

Sunday marks the ‘Day of Pentecost’ when the Holy Spirit descended on the early church as promised by Jesus before He ascended to heaven. After the incredible happened as the Holy Spirit arrived as described in Acts 2, we get a picture of the beauty of true community:

“And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” (Acts 2:42-43)

The first church chose to do life together. Nothing has changed. The invitation is there for us too: to do life together. Yes, we have an added complication, don't we? The SUM life is challenging isn't it?

For a variety of reasons, I’ve found myself having stepped out of community. As church has physically returned, I’ve chosen to continue to attend online. And it’s really struck me that I’m kinda treading water. And it’s in being with others that I can move forward.

We’re invited into a God-breathed kind of life and to experience it with others.

Perhaps in the comments we can share our own experiences of joining with others, whether a handful or many, and how it compares to walking by oneself. And also, what particular challenges do each of us have in finding community or being able to participate in it. And what are some ways you've risen above the challenges.

Grace and peace, dear Sumites.


The Love Dare

Ann here! Love dare 2

I've been having a little adventure lately with a book called The Love Dare. *

Here on this blog we talked in January about some of the things we want to focus on this year, and some of you said you'd like help with the area of how to love your spouse better.

Well, as we know, love is an action, and that brings me to this adventurous book.

I was recommended this book by one of our SUMites here in Auckland, Paula Blackie. She said, "It's really, really good." So, curiously, I ordered it.

Books take a while to get to New Zealand, but eventually it landed in my letter box, I ripped open the package, and here's what I found:

The book is a set of forty dares that you do over a period of forty days. Each dare is something you are asked to do for your spouse. Preceding each dare in the book there is a devotional first, with scripture references. 

There's also a movie called 'Fireproof' that's linked with the book, and it's about a firefighter who puts the forty dares into action in his own marriage. Sounds good, but I haven't watched it yet.

Anyway, I decided not to tell Bryce about the dares and instead to just dive in quietly. Here's how it began --

Day #1.

Day #1 was called 'Love is patient', and it went like this:

"For the next day resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you'll regret." 

"Righty ho", I thought, rolling up my sleeves. "This should be easy"; and for most of the day I didn't even see Bryce so that definitely was easy. However, we then sat down to the evening news with the boys, which we don't normally do. As soon as the news began, my whole family began speaking over the news, one on one side of me, two on the other. I didn't manage to hear a single part of the news that evening.

Irritation welled up immediately (Crikey, is this how easily I get irritated?!) and so I got to practice this good quality: patience.

Day #2

I seemed to be in a particularly serene frame of mind after practising patience and a controlled tongue the previous night. My task today, according to the book, was to continue not to say anything negative to my spouse, and in addition say something very kind to him at some point during the day. A short and sweet dare indeed. Well, at some point that day upstairs I trundled (to his home office), and told him something particularly nice about himself. He grinned back at me. 

I liked that dare. Who doesn't like being kind? 

Day #3

Day #3 was titled 'Love is not selfish'. The dare went like this:

"Along with refraining from any negative comments, buy your spouse something that says 'I was thinking of you today' ".

I like the fact the book has to keep telling you not to make negative comments. Oh dear! Is that what marriage is like? Well, that I can do reasonably easily. But the next part was hard as Bryce is the hardest person on earth to buy things for. I literally could not think of a thing to get him. In the end, I walked down to the local shop and bought him a Snickers bar, his favorite chocolate. I left it on his pillow. He said, "What's that for?" I said, "It's for you. Since it's your favorite."

And that's where I've got to so far. In thinking about love as an action, I guess this little book, The Love Dare, helps us try a few of the following things out:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV)

Thanks again to Paula Blackie for inspiring this post; and now I'd love to hear from our community: What are some practical ways you show love to your spouse?

Ann

* The Love Dare (2013), by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Published by B&H Publishing Group, Nashville: TN.


Maintaining Promised Land Living? What Does That Mean?

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here!

Maintain Warrior sword

1:to keep in an existing state (as of repair, efficiency, or validity) preserve from failure or decline
2to sustain against opposition or danger : uphold and defend
3to continue or persevere in CARRY ONKEEP UP
4ato support or provide for
  bSUSTAIN
5to affirm in or as if in argument ASSERT
Living
1the condition of being alive
2ameans of subsistence* LIVELIHOOD
3conduct or manner of life
 
*Subsistence - the state of remaining in force or effect.
Promised Land
And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” -- Exodus 33:14
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. -- Revelation 21:7
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. -- 1 Peter 5:10
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. - John 14:12
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. - John 15:7-8
On Monday I talked about some of the joys of Promised Land Living that I have been experiencing. Today I want to talk about the hardship.
 
A pastor once said, "You cannot have the victory without the battle." I sometimes wish that wasn't true. Wouldn't it be so much easier if we could just stroll through life without having to fight? I don't mean arguments with spouses or getting our children to obey. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. I mean the constant battle in the spirit realm. The tugging and stretching and exhausting of our hearts and minds.
 
I think about someone who lifts weights at the gym. The process in which a person continually works out in order to tone and firm up their muscles is called STRENGTH TRAINING. When we go through the spiritual battles of life - the constant pressure, getting on our knees, and clinging to Jesus - we are strengthening our spirit man. It is a refining process. Just like a diamond is made under intense circumstances, we too are made into mighty warriors as we continue to maintain our life in Jesus.
 
Right now, I feel as though I am taking one step forward and two giant leaps backwards. It has been exhausting trying to work a full time job, cook, clean, take care of my children, handle a dog who keeps pooping in the house, unpack, find time to abide in Jesus and sleep.
 
I do covet your prayers in the season I am in. We have had some very wonderful memories so far in our Promised Land...but mentally I am really struggling. It has been ROUGH. Some old strongholds are trying to move back into my life - perfectionism, orphan spirit, controlling spirit, depression, anxiety to name a few.
 
Just because I have arrived, doesn't mean I don't have to fight for it. Remember our definition of maintain? UPHOLD. DEFEND. PERSEVERE. These are action words. When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River, they didn't instantly get the land. They had to conquer in order to advance. As we step into more of what God has promised us - in our marriage, in our loved ones, in our jobs, in our households - there will be more opposition. The biggest battle will be in our hearts and minds.
 
What about you? What does your Promised Land look like? I am seeing a LOT of victory and praiseworthy reports in our SUM community from salvations, spouses drawing closer to the Lord, willingness to accept prayer, miraculous healings, etc.
 
Have you noticed an increase in spiritual attack as you gain more ground in your Promised Land? How can we pray for you? What tools has the Lord given you to be able to maintain your Promised Land living?
 
See you in the comments. Many blessings of an open Heaven over you and your household!

Maintaining Promised Land Living

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! 20220305_165024 (2)

It has been just over a month since the Carter Crew has signed papers and moved into our new home. A lot has unfolded - both good and bad in this time. I was going to list some things for you but I don't want to make it sound like I am out to complain...

...because that is exactly what the devil tried to get me to do. And I almost fell for it.

The Israelites, setting out on their journey out of Egypt, began with excitement. That excitement eventually faded as they succumbed to grumbling and eventually ungratefulness. After 40 years of wandering, the time had come for the next generation to step into the promised land. All that waiting. All that preparing. All that anticipation.

Stepping into the promised land was not an instant garden of Eden or heaven on earth. They had to work for it. There were enemies that had to be conquered in order to take what God deemed rightfully theirs.

Just like the Israelites, I too have had to fight to conquer and claim my promised land. My fight is not of the physical nature. Remember "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). The battlefield is in my heart and mind. Tiff house new color

I've physically stepped into my promised land. This beautiful home that I have invested 2+ years claiming, praying and interceding for, crying over, anointing, and welcoming heaven to come and dwell. I am HERE! I've finally made it. BUT...

One lesson I've learned in the short time that we've been here - being in the promised land does NOT guarantee promised land LIVING. I have had days that would only allow myself to see what I DIDN'T have. As I type this, looking out the window, I still do not have a sprinkler system or sod. We have weeds and dirt. Unfortunately, this means we have to take our dog out across the street to the middle school and allow him to go "do his business." Most days, even when doing so before work, we will come home to find that Skyler has soiled our unfinished basement. This is a whole other story in and of itself but suffice it to say, pray for my mental health over this issue. I am at my wits end some days.

BUT I've got a large yard for my children to be able to play in...they don't care if it is dirt and weeds. They just love to be outside. My dog is a wonderful companion and we love him dearly (though I have had to do A LOT of forgiving of his new bad habit). I've got more than enough storage places for our things. I'm closer to work so it is a little less of a drive. My kids have a group of people they walk to school with in the mornings so I don't have to worry about them being alone. Tiff and Jase r

The best part of this new season is the atmosphere. Inviting Holy Spirit to dwell and move into His home, welcoming an open heaven where angels reside in the rafters, it just feels different. I can honestly say with joy that I've been the "right hand man" to Jason on the various home projects that we had to complete. We've worked together with great communication and listening skills. We've completed projects without arguing, been patient, had a lot of fun! The amount of yelling that happened in the past and the impatience and tears - is nothing in comparison to the joy and peace in this season.

It hasn't been easy. I've had to really be intentional to walk and live the promised land life - gratitude, patience, humility, forgiveness, calm, and most of all love.

"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." - Deuteronomy 30:19-20     

Tiff cabinetry rPictured: our house finally got painted! I absolutely love the color. Jason and I worked together and got our cabinets hung and set. More than the cabinets being hung, the beautiful memories of a happy and pleasurable experience was the best anniversary gift I could have ever received. We paid one of the men who painted our house to stain the cabinets. Waiting for our countertop to come in so we can finish our pantry with some backsplash as a final touch.

See you in the comments. Many blessings!

 

 




Nothing is Impossible -- A Testimony

Ann here,

A few years ago a friend at church told me how she and her husband used to be unequally yoked, but then he became a believer. "He did?!" I gasped. "How? How?" At the time her story really helped me.

Well, this week that friend came to my house and recorded her story on video, especially for our community. Here it is for your viewing pleasure, and may it spur you on.

"For nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37, ESV)


Moving!

Hi,

I'm sitting outside in our new backyard as I write to you. This past weekend my daughter, Caitie, flew in from Portland to celebrate my birthday and to see the new house. 

I'm a bit overwhelmed by how many boxes and just "stuff" that I still have waiting for me to sort and put away. I suspect I'll be unpacking for several months. In the last several months I've been learning a great deal about healing and praying for others who need physical healing. I know that in the future I'll be offering a LIVE teaching about what the Lord is showing me. AND I've been practicing on myself. 

Interesting.

Anyhoo, here is a "hello" from me, Mike and Caitie. Be patient with me as I try to get back to some rhythm and normalcy. I will hope to have things together enough to reengage with my prayer ministry in June.

I love you all. Thanks for walking this journey with me. Hugs, Lynn

Mike Lynn Caitie 5 16 2022

 


The GREAT Power of Our Warfare

Jesus Names of SUMThe name of Jesus.

His name can launch a war, seal the fate of nations, change the destiny of a thousand generations. His name can cast out legions of devils and free captives from the darkest depression. His name heals the blind and destroys cancer. His name can bring freedom, deliverance, new destinies and fortunes.

For an entire season of my life, I would mumble around whispering the name of Jesus. Over and over, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. His name spoken aloud changes my heart and my home. Can I share something with you that is a peek into my life? Well, ahem, even today when I wake in the night and make a trip to the bathroom, without being aware, the name of Jesus still slips from my lips. “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, you are my King. Jesus, I adore you. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Oh, that we would all have the name of Jesus continually tumbling from our lips.

Everything changed for me when I came to wrap my mind, heart and spirit around three passages of scripture and how Jesus is at the core.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. —Ephesians 2: 6-7

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. — Colossians 1:27

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. —Colossians 3:3

SUMite Nation, come to the truth and grips with these passages. Let them dwell in you and you in them. We are seated with Christ in heaven. Christ is IN US, the hope of glory. We are hidden in Christ in God.

Who could ever touch us if these are true?

Jesus, Prince of Peace
Jesus, Prince of Peace

The weapons of our warfare: The Word of God, Worship, Blood of Jesus, The name of Jesus. And our offensive weapon is our Sword. 

Take care. I adore you. Lynn Donovan

(From the archives as I'm STILL unpacking!  grin)


When There is Abuse in a Marriage

Hi SUM family,Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love, 

Ann


The Different Kinds of Spiritually Mismatched Marriage

Ann here! Couple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love to you all,

Ann


Do Nothing?

  Ocean Hello my lovely SUMites! I have a little story God put on my heart recently. It is a little bit intense, but I think it is the perfect metaphor for how some of us may be feeling in this season of life. I hope it speaks to you as much as it spoke to me. Then I will share one of my own experiences with letting go.

  Imagine yourself hanging over the edge of a high cliff. All you can see below your dangling feet is a dense fog. You have no idea if the ground is 2 feet or 200 feet away.  You start to panic! Your mind is racing, your breathing quickens, your heart is pounding in your chest. You are completely terrified of the unknown. As your mind races, questions arise, "How did I let myself get here? What happens next? How can I get myself out of this? Will I be stuck here forever? What am I going to do?". You start to feel hopeless, weak, embarrassed, and maybe even angry at yourself and the situation. Then, as gentle and quiet as a soft breeze, you hear a voice. The softest whisper calls out to you, "Trust me, and let go". This voice is so sure, so comforting, and so familiar! It is your father! THE Father! Calling out from somewhere just out of sight. Asking you to trust him enough, to love him enough, to have enough reckless faith to LET GO! Can you do that? Can you let go of what you have been clutching and let yourself fall into the Father's waiting arms?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5 CSB

The first half of this year has been full of lessons and trials for me and my family. And it all came to a head at a weekend ladies retreat with my church. The weekend was full of wonderful words and worship. On our last night there one of the pastors said she had a word from God for all of us in attendance. He told her that he knew we had been struggling with battles we didn't know how to fight anymore. And when we took communion that night our eyes would be opened and we would know exactly what we were supposed to do. Now there had been some serious struggles in my marriage and I was getting tired. I had been trying to fix everything for so long, and now I was at the end of my rope.

"You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace" Isaiah 26:3 CSB

So, as I waited in line for communion I prayed and I praised. We each took turns walking under an altar that represented his protection and love. Afterwards I found a quiet corner and stayed in worship mode. The Lord kept saying "Let go...let go...let go". I just couldn't understand that. I am a "fixer"! I like to get elbow deep into the issues and work them out! How can he be telling ME to let go?

Then, a woman I had just recently met, who had no idea about my situation came up to me. We prayed for each other. And right after she told me she felt like God wanted me to do...nothing. NOTHING! Whaaaaaat? I have no training for doing nothing! haha! This scared me and gave me peace all at once.

Later that night while I was in bed, God clarified by telling me it was time to have reckless faith! The faith that trusts enough to LET GO. Pray of course, walk in faith daily! But stop trying to make things happen on my own time. To loosen my chokehold on life, on my family, and on my marriage. To trust him like I never have before. This is a new and foreign place to me. I am still working it out. And some days I fail, but that is when I lean on his grace and start over. God has been so good and so patient as I fumble my way through this new season of faith!

What are some things God wants you to let go of? To step back and do nothing so that he can work? Let's discuss it together in the comments!

Amanda


Meet our Community

Happy Friday, everyone -- Ann here.

We are truly blessed to have a community of inspiring, strong, faith-filled men and women here at SUM, and I'm really looking forward to more of the upcoming Let's Talk Live videos where we will get to hear some of their voices. Some weeks we'll have a guest, and some weeks it will just be me.

This week was our first one, and I had the pleasure of talking to Gladys Rosario Arias. If you missed it here it is:

I won't always manage to put the video on the blog afterwards, depending on what else there is to share in a given week; but you'll be able to find each one on our YouTube channel after we've gone live. 

Hope you have a good weekend, and we'll see you on Monday.

Ann


Shifting our Focus: Part 3 - Slow Down

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Photos courtesy of Pexels.com/ron-lach

Over the past couple of months I’ve been sharing some thoughts on how we shift our focus away from our busyness and ourselves to refocus on Jesus. In my first post, we shared about meditating on Scripture and the second one in Holy Week was about the power and wonder of Stillness.

This time around I wanted to share about a practice that I’ve taken on more conscientiously this year … Sabbath rest.

“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” (Dallas Willard)

I’ve read that quote from Dallas Willard, one of my favourite teachers, many times. Willard believed that hurry was “the great enemy of the spiritual life.” I think we can all testify to how challenging busyness is and how it can limit our time with God, and Christian friends. How frequently do you respond when someone asks ‘how are you’ with something along the lines of ‘good … just very busy’ or that’s the response you get when you ask similarly?

We live in a busy world. There are many people who believe it’s the enemy’s greatest weapon in keeping believers away from God: just keep them busy.

I only noticed the other day how I was feeling out of kilter. It didn’t take me long to appreciate why. I had been running around for several days being very busy and hadn’t spent sufficient time with God. I hadn’t refuelled. I was doing everything out of my own strength.

Jesus Walked

Yes, I know, Jesus lived in a time when there were no cars and really the only way to commute was by walking. But it’s fair to stay Jesus did a lot of it.

Jesus never hurried. Read that again.

Why should we?

Rest Day

We’re all familiar with the notion of the Sabbath. I’ll be honest I probably haven’t ever strictly adopted a practice of setting aside a day to rest. Be with God, celebrate with family and friends and try to do no work, even household chores.

But I’ve been trying to do it this year. And even then, I still seem to do one load of washing. But I’m not going to beat myself up about that.

We were designed to rest. Why? Besides the obvious physical and mental benefits of rest, Krispin Mayfield shares another practical benefit:

“... it is when we rest and cease our striving that we experience God’s presence more consistently.”

And that’s what we’re trying to do here, isn’t it? Shift our focus increasingly towards Jesus more consistently.

Practicalities

I don’t think Sabbath has to be Sunday. Many people do it on Saturday. I do sometimes. As life tends to be so different for each one of us, there’s no reason it can’t be any day of the week really. It’s more what we do with our time that’s more the issue, not what day we do it.

It's challenging with a household of kids, chores, kids sport, music lessons, and so on to be able to set aside a whole day to not do any form or work or anything. What about making lunch and dinner? That’s part of the feasting so I reckon that’s okay. (I really appreciated this during Lent. Fast for 6 days and Sunday is feast day. So no fasting! Woohoo!)

For we SUMites it can be even more challenging because our partner might not get the concept of Sabbath and expect weekends to be about household projects.

We can get very legalistic about it but like all things spiritual it's more about what’s going on in our hearts and our attitude towards such a practice. It’s about letting go for a while, resting, relaxing, loving and feasting. Not about ticking boxes off.

Remember, God knows our situations. He understands. He appreciates that our Sabbath might be a couple of hours here, a couple there. Just talk to Him, involve Him in it. Ask Him to reveal His passion for it and how He can assist you to introduce/practice it. His way is the gentle way; the easy yoke. No stressing allowed.

Next time, I’ll share some more on simplifying our days. In the meantime, be great if we could have a conversation in the comments about our Sabbath’s. Do we practice it? How do we do it? Once again, no guilt here, no condemnation. It’s only something I’ve finally started taking seriously. Let’s love each other in the comments.

Grace and peace.

 


Let's Talk Live this week

Hello friends, Ann here. Let's Talk Live

We have some nice news this week: Many of you will remember we used to do a weekly live chat on our Facebook page. Well, we're going to start that up again.

So, each Wednesday at 3pm Pacific time, I'll be hopping on to do a Live video, which will stream on our Facebook page and our YouTube channel. You'll be able to comment if you like, and we should be able to make it a little interactive. Exciting!

We'll sometimes have guests come on over the coming weeks, and we'll cover a different topic each week relating to spiritually mismatched marriage.

So, with that, I'm pleased to announce our very first guest who has kindly agreed to come online and share a little. Gladys picMany of you will have heard us mention Gladys Rosario Arias, who has been a great help to us behind the scenes and inspired a few of our events such as the 24-hour worship event. She is a long-time member of this community and an encourager to many. I can't wait to chat with her. She lives in Florida, and has a large family of adult children and grandchildren for whom she prays like crazy. Our topic for Wednesday is going to be thriving in your own faith rather than just surviving when married to a non-believing spouse.

While we're on the topic of live connection, we also want to thank you for all your feedback about our proposed Bible Study on Zoom. Lynn is going to do some planning for that, and we will keep you posted.

For now, I've got a question to ask and would love some more feedback from you: What topics would you like to see us talk about on these upcoming live videos?

Thanks in advance for your answers, and looking forward to seeing some of you in the video comments on Wednesday.

Ann


Prayer Strategies from the Parable of the Sower

By Ann Hutchison Sword bird

I often think it's great to use scripture in our prayers sometimes. That way we know that the words we speak in prayer are spot-on. 

Of course, there are many other ways to pray too, like having a big heart-to-heart chat with God. But using scripture is one creative little thing we can do; it's a specific prayer strategy.

With scripture, what we can do is take certain truths, turns of phrase, or key words, and speak them out. It is powerful to do that.

I remember once in church a minister came up to me and spoke a single line of scripture over me as a prayer. I fell over there and then!! Literally, the power of the Holy Spirit knocked me to my knees. All she did was speak a line of scripture. 

That has never happened to me before or since, but it taught me a big lesson about just how powerful the word of God is.

Anyway, there are all kinds of scriptures that can be used creatively as a basis for a prayer and today I thought I would look at a particular passage that applies to our unsaved loved ones: The Parable of the Sower. 

I say that parable is appropriate to our loved ones because it's all about what's going on in people's hearts when they don't believe. That parable explains why some people don't receive the Gospel, and why some people fall away even after they have been strong Christians. That last one is sobering. I often come back to this parable and re-read it, just to help myself understand.

The parable goes like this --

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:3-9, NIV)

Then Jesus interpreted that story:

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:8-23, NIV)

It's such a helpful parable, I love it. But it's even richer when we turn it into a prayer strategy. If we take the above truths and turn them into prayer for our spouse, we can pray like this:

"In the Name of Jesus:

  • I declare with absolute authority that the enemy will not be allowed to snatch away the message of the Kingdom that is sown in my spouse's heart.
  • I pray for a deep root of belief to grow in my spouse so that when they do finally have faith it will withstand trouble and persecution.
  • I declare that the deceitfulness of wealth and the worries of this life must not be allowed to choke the word of God in my spouse's life.
  • I pray that my spouse will hear the word, understand it and produce a crop that yields much."

Amen!

Dear friends, how about we pray these things for our spouses and children this weekend?

Ann


The Risen Jesus Versus Our Circumstance

Hi everyone, Ann here. He has risen

After Friday's post I've had a little thought stuck in my head that's somewhat creative but it's been speaking a powerful message to me. It's this:

When attending church alone, many of us lament, naturally. This thing is tough, and even those who have attended church alone for decades will say that. For those of us women, we think about our husband: 'He is not here,' and it can be painful enough to bring tears. For the guys, the version of that is 'She is not here.'

However, what's struck me is that those words, 'He is not here', also happen to be the words that were used by the angels who announced Jesus's resurrection at the empty tomb. For them it carried a completely opposite message -- A message of victory and joy:

He is not here, He has risen! (Luke 24:6; Matthew 28:6).

Amen, amen, amen to that.

So, for us we could say we have two versions of 'He is not here' in our life. We have the version where we're looking at our spouse's spiritual condition and seeing it as a dead situation. And then there's the version where we're looking at Jesus and his resurrection, awe-struck. These are two very different things in our life.

I wonder if we can take that little 'play on words' and think about it some more. There is a real counter-truth to our pain of doing faith alone, and that counter-truth is that JESUS is fighting for us in this situation, as are the angels. Knowing that, if we say 'our spouse is not here' about a hopeless situation we can then follow it up by declaring the same words were used by the angels about Jesus: But He (Jesus) has risen! 

In other words:

He is not here (my husband, that is).

BUT, hang on, there is power working in my family:

Jesus is risen! And that means the enemy is disarmed in this situation, death has lost its sting, and the power of God is working in my family for the salvation of all my household.

How powerful is the resurrection for our life circumstance? Can we trust God to do a miracle and raise the spiritually dead? Absolutely. Yes, our spouse has free will, but we can at least know that the resurrection power of Jesus is a force as mighty as an atom bomb. 

When the women went to the tomb on that morning of the resurrection expecting to anoint a dead body with perfume and spices, they instead got the shock of their lives to encounter angels. Angels in shining garments declare to the women:

Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen! (Luke 24:6, NKJV)

And, an angel with a countenance like lightning and clothing as white as snow, says:

Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead (Matthew 28:5-7, NKJV)

That is our God! That is his truth. Whew, mighty power.

Knowing that power, I wonder if we can challenge ourselves to do the following: Next time in church when we feel that sadness of our spouse's absence, perhaps we can try to put that thought away deliberately because it is us focusing on a dead body. Instead, let's say out loud --

But, He (Jesus) is not here, he is risen! And that same power of the resurrection is working in my family.

I'd like to finish with a prayer --

Dear Jesus, thank you that you did conquer the grave and you did give us power and hope. We ask for every single person in this SUM community, that you will help us not fall into lament when we sit in church alone, but help us instead to focus on your power and the resurrection. Show us more of what your resurrection power can do in our families. Thank you, Lord.

Love you all, 

Ann


It's a Quandary!

By Ann Hutchison Disco ball

Often-times a spiritually mismatched marriage can make us feel we're in a real quandary. I wonder if that's how you'd describe it too?

Dictionary definitions of the word 'quandary' include:

A state of perplexity

A hard plight

A state of difficulty

A state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.

Yes, I'd say that's how it's often been. But today I'd like to share something that God seemed to show me about that state of quandary. What he seemed to say is that a quandary has its purposes Here's the story:

Three years ago I was sat in my church's Easter service. The pastor put on some music and said "Let's sit and reflect for a while." The soft music played.

Gazing down, my eyes began to wander. They wandered over to a certain molded indentation on the plastic seat beside me, where my husband should have been sat. And still the music played. Instead of thinking about the empty tomb I began to think about a different empty thing: That empty seat, and my absent-from-church husband.

"He is not here," I thought to myself. And I wasn't thinking about Jesus now.

One thing led to another then, and yes this may sound dramatic but I threw myself forward, hurled my head into my hands, and let my shoulders heave in quiet sobs.

He is not here. He is not here.

Meanwhile, the reflection music just kept on playing.

It was at that moment that little thoughts came to me that seemed to perfectly articulate my problem, like some kind of 'eureka' moment. I grabbed my phone and began to type. Here's what I wrote:

"I can't do faith without you, Bryce.

You won't do it with me.

I can't be without you.

I can't not do faith."

"Wow" I thought, clicking the save button with a sense of resolution. "That there is what's going on. I'm in a constant quandary." Indeed, what I realized from writing those four statements is that this SUM situation was bringing me a set of tensions that seemed impossible to hold. Well, at least that's how it felt.

At that moment, however, God seemed to give me the following as a way of countering the problem I had just typed out. It landed in my heart as an analogy, a quiet answer from the Holy Spirit:

"Ann, there are numerous facets to your character, just like a glitter ball has many facets. These tensions in your life enable the different facets of your character to be examined by Me. These tensions have their purpose: They enable Me to test your heart. Know this, then: Every time you hold two contradictory things in tension in your marriage, you are being tested and refined. I am watching to see how you navigate it and what choices you will make."

Amazing. "I think I understand, Lord," I said, and I have thought a lot about that image of the glitter ball and its facets ever since. Is this whole SUM situation one big set of tests, even?

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts. (Proverbs 17:3)

Well, that was three years ago and of course I've had numerous thoughts about spiritually mismatched marriage since, just like I imagine many of you do. But, three years on, some of those things I'm holding in tension don't seem so hard to combine any more. I can't say why exactly. Perhaps it's that Jesus has come into the middle of it and brought ease.

There is one part to that quandary that I can say has actively changed, though. My first statement that Easter three years ago was this: "I can't do faith without you, Bryce." Well, I have learned that I can do faith without him, and I do. For, after all, though I am one flesh with my husband, I do stand on my own two feet before God.

Overall, then, perhaps our lesson is today is that we mustn't despise the quandary, but instead see it for what it is: a tool for us to draw closer to God, and a tool for him to refine our characters.

Do you have a quandary you're wrestling with at the moment?

Let's chat in the comments!

Ann


Community Bible Study?

Want Your Feedback SUMHi Everyone,

Lynn Donovan here. I'm considering offering a 10-week, LIVE Bible study through Zoom. We would study together the book of James. Everything in the book of James leads us to live the Christian life with success. 

My questions are below. Please respond in the comments. Please, please take a minute and share your thoughts. They are important to me. 

  1. I know you are likely tired of Zoom meetings, but would you tune in to Zoom for about an hour to an hour and a half?
  2. Would you be willing to commit a meeting once a week for ten weeks? 
  3. What areas of learning would help you? For example, finances, relationships, physical healing, prayer life, life balance. Please think about what you need and list as many as come to mind in the comments. There is NO condemnation. Let's study what we really need. 
  4. Should this study begin in August or September?

This study will be live only, no recordings. To get the good stuff you have to show up. Faith takes a commitment, but I promise you this. IT WILL BE GOOD STUFF. Training and info you won't get in church. Wisdom from heaven that will grow your faith and lead you into a better life.

Okay, See you in the comments. Thank you for taking time to share with me. Hugs, Lynn Donovan


The Glorious Resurrection

My friends, today it is Resurrection Sunday, and along with the wider Body of Christ around the world we're celebrating this wonderful, wonderful event. Passion of Christ

It's funny to think about how that group of people in first-century Jerusalem (e.g., the disciples) were so normal ... And yet what they experienced that day was completely mind-blowing.

That day, that Sunday of the Resurrection, the women went to the tomb to find a stone rolled away, and men dressed in white -- Angels. One of the women, Mary Magdalene, even saw Jesus with her own eyes. Was she crazy??

Peter and John raced to the tomb to find it was indeed empty. The burial garments were lying in a pile, including the body's head covering neatly folded in a corner. What on earth had happened?

Two men were walking on a road to Emmaeus and Jesus appeared to them to explain the scriptures and what had just happened. As soon as they recognized him he vanished from their sight. "Didn't our hearts burn within us?" They said afterwards, trying to debrief with each other.

And finally, the grieving disciples were in a locked room hiding from the Jews when suddenly their beloved Master appeared from the dead in front of them! They nearly fainted with shock, but then got to touch his side, saw his hands, and sat back in awe, hearts pounding.

That was the immediate reality, though several of these people might have wondered if it was real. The Bible says many doubted, and it's not surprising. It was an extraordinary day which they would never forget.

What they couldn't possibly have imagined, however, is what would happen to the world after that. That, to me, is as big a miracle. That resurrection power swept through the world, beginning in Jerusalem, and changed individual life after individual life, eventually reaching yours and mine. It first touched people in the places where the twelve apostles took the Gospel, and then continuing to explode like an atom bomb from generation to generation, like a powerful domino effect. Signs and wonders often accompanied the message, as did a lot of prayer behind the scenes by saints past and present.

The resurrection message of Jesus had the power to spread without compulsion or force and it changed whole nations. Every authentic conversion that occurred did so by that same resurrection power that lifted Jesus from the dead.

That you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead .. (Ephesians 1:18-19, NKJV) 

Today almost one third of the world's population calls themselves Christian, and the resurrection power of Jesus Christ continues to touch individual lives, one after another. 

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. (John 21:25, NKJV)

The above verse is the very last verse of the four Gospels. Though it is speaking of all the things Jesus did in first-century Israel, it feels to me like a prophecy too. Indeed, the world truly cannot contain the number of the things that could be written about what Jesus has done ever since the Resurrection. Testimonies of changed lives are now as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore.

Amazing.

What do we do with that? Well, I'd say we must stand on the fact that the power of the resurrection is such a powerful force that it changed our world. If that is the case it can change our home too.

And that brings us to the end of our time of commemorating the passion of Christ. Dear SUMites, I hope you have a meaningful day and let's celebrate the Resurrection today with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

Love,

Ann


"It is Finished."

Dear friends Passion of Christ

It's Ann here, and we've reached Friday, the very last day of Holy Week and the day where Jesus was eventually taken to his death.

This particular year I have been thinking a lot about the visual signs of power in that last moment on the cross:

"From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened they were terrified, and exclaimed "Surely He was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:45-54, NIV)

That picture stuns me. The brooding darkness, the rock-splitting earthquake, and the curtain in the temple being violently ripped in two. I'm picturing the shock of those who discovered or saw that curtain. Would they have registered at all what was going on?

At that very moment humanity was being given free access to an intimate relationship with God. As Jesus breathed his last, he said: "It is finished." It's done.

The earth shook, the rocks split, the tombs broke open. Dead people would start waking up and coming out of their tombs days later. Can you imagine?! The sheer power of that moment leads me to ask a question of myself: What exactly does the power of the cross mean for my own life?  

I had a chat with a Christian friend last week. She told me that she was facing a distressing situation at work that was proving to be quite severe. A colleague of hers was displaying some very dark behavior and she was being challenged in a number of ways that actually seemed spiritual. She then told me God's answer to her had been this:

"Lean on the finished work of the cross."

She and I chatted a little about that, and both felt it was a somewhat elusive phrase, but nevertheless a phrase that really made us think. What does it look like, exactly?

Lean on the finished work of the cross.

In our lives, the finished work of the cross means that the enemy is disarmed. It means that good is more powerful than evil. It also means that Jesus has cleared our own sin to such a great degree that we know we are loved.

Lean on the finished work of the cross.

The finished work of the cross is power in our lives, and it means we have the kind of access to God that we otherwise never could have had. It means rock-splitting power. Resurrection power.

So, with all that said, here's a little idea: Consider sitting with the Lord to ask him about what the finished work of the cross means for your current circumstances. Share in the comments any insights you come up with.

And .. We will be back on Sunday!

Ann


New Perspective This Holy Thursday - What Do I Have To Offer My Spouse?

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! Emre-RuqOeMvPlzQ-unsplash

I have been thinking about the timeline of Holy Week. I was blessed to be able to write for Thursday's post. I didn't realize until recently that Thursday is referenced as "Maundy Thursday." Doing a quick online study I found that Maundy comes from "mandatum" which in Latin means: mandate, command, law, order to do something, commandment. How neat! Of course, the night before Jesus' crucifixion, we see the Last Supper and instructions that Jesus gives to the disciples.

I want to focus on what happens afterwards. I want to talk about Gethsemane.

Did you know that Gethsemane is comprised of two Hebrew words?

Gath + Shemen = oil press

In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus take His disciples there to pray. He tasks them with praying so that they would not fall into temptation. A little further ahead He goes to spend time with Abba Father. No matter how close that He had become with the disciples, He still could not take Him where He had to go. Isn't it like our SUM? No matter how receptive, how supportive, how loving, how attentive our spouses are to us and our lives...they still cannot be where we are. Hear my heart because I don't want that to be taken the wrong way. Even with a household with two Christian parts to the marriage, the relationship with the Father belongs to the individual.

But in a SUM, the weight of life, circumstances, loneliness, heartache, stress, responsibility, revelation, is so much heavier when we have to carry it alone.

In His anguish, Jesus prays that there might be another way...BUT not His will but God's be done. Coming back to check on the disciples, He finds that they've gone to sleep. This happens a few times!

I sometimes feel this way...especially in this fight for the children in the public school system. I pray, I press in, I grieve what I've learned is happening...in coming back to my husband, it seems that he is asleep...unaware, uninterested, unmoved.

What about in your life? Many questions swirl around in this hardened season. How do we school our children? How do we deal with job loss? Impending divorce? Financial hardship? Health scares?  Progress, breakthrough and victory impeded by strongholds and backsliding?

I think that we know the process of the press is brutal to the olive. A lot of us are in various stages of pressure and hardship, as if we are the olives being turned into oil.

Olive oil had many uses in Jesus' time...it was integral to society. It was used to light lamps for seeing in the dark. I was used for medicine, anointing, cooking, making bread.

Could it be that we the believing spouse are being prepared in this season for husbands and wives benefit? We are the light of Jesus in our darkened households. We are the nourishment as we carry the Word (remember Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone?!). We bring the anointing and healing as we intercede for our families.

The process of the press is uncomfortable, painful and seemingly unbearable. BUT God! He refines, purifies, transforms and refreshes us into the useful, essential thing needed in our household.

In the pressing, remember that it is only for a season. Remember that you are integral to your home. You are a benefit and a treasure. You are essential. You are powerful. You are made for such a time as this.

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

My prayer goes out to you on this Holy Thursday. I bless you with the nourishment, light, anointing, healing of Jesus Christ who first went through the press for you.


The Silent Day! At Least That's What Satan Believed!

Passion Week 2022The Passion Week – Wednesday- by Lynn Donovan

The Silent Day

SUM Nation, on this Wednesday as we remember and honor the Passion of Christ, let’s focus on what happened on Wednesday leading up to the resurrection. The Bible offers little information regarding Jesus, His disciples, and their activity that day.

But we know many things were rumbling underground that day. This is when I believe satan issued his command to kill the Christ. The devil knew from the beginning who Jesus was and believed it would be catestrophic to allow him to live. Evil foresaw the future where the entire world became healed, prospered, and stepped into our original design and destiny as children of God.

The satanic evil counsels conspired plans to stir up Judas Iscariot and the Sanhedrin to torture and kill the Son of God. Their wicked laughter shook the blackened ruins of hell, as the tempters planned Christ’s death with a mere pieces of silver placed before a very broken and greedy man, Judas Iscariot. Demonic generals inhabited the religious rulers and they formed a plan to kill LIFE itself.

BUT……. If satan knew what would happen with the death of Jesus, he would have stopped it at all cost!

In the silence this is what God was doing!!!!!!  Jesus aligns fully with His destiny. He is resetting the entirety of humanity back to our original design and purpose.

  • Death is DEFEATED. 1 CORINTHIANS 15:54
  • He creates a new species of beings on earth. 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17
  • The Holy Spirit arrives in power and with comfort. ACTS 1:8
  • We become Children of God and co-heirs with Christ. ROMANS 8:17
  • Our eternity is certain. 1 JOHN 2:25
  • Daily life is covered with hope and promises. 2 CORINTHIANS 1:20
  • We reign with Christ forever. REVELATION 5:10
  • We have life abundant. John 10:10
  • We have a renewed mind, a healed heart, a firm foundation and a life of promise. ROMANS 12:2, 1 PETER 5:10, MATTHEW 7:24-27, ROMANS 10:13

In the silence of a single day, Father, saw His Son and affirmed Him. He saw His many children lost and deceived and knew they were about to experience the greatest moment of all time.

The death and the glorious resurrection of the Messiah. Yeshua, who is Christ the Lord!

Is silence your companion today? Is the enemy plotting-destroying your hope and peace? Is it a struggle to see a way forward because all is silent and dark?

My friend, stand up because Sunday is your destiny. It IS WRITTEN. IT IS ACCOMPLISHED ALREADY! And life within the Kingdom is not just a wish. IT IS OUR BEAUTIFUL REALITY!

We can do all things through Christ, because He LIVES!

Leave me your prayer requests and let’s destroy the silence and live a loud and bold life. In Jesus name. AMEN. Blessings and hugs, Lynn


Not My Will, But Yours Be Done.

Garden picture"Then He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and began to pray, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me - nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.' Then an angel appeared to Him, strengthening Him. Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground" (Luke 22:39-44, CSB).

Jesus felt fear, He felt anguish, He felt overwhelmed, He felt exhaustion. We know this because of scriptures like the one above. But what did Jesus do about it? What was His response to this event He knew was causing all these feelings? Even in the face of pain beyond measure, He told the Father, "Not my will, but YOUR will be done." Jesus had human feelings. That is one of the beautiful things about conversing with Him in prayer, we can be honest with Him and take comfort in knowing He truly understands what it is like to be human. We know Jesus NEVER sinned, yet He did have feelings. It was His response to those feelings that we can learn so much from!

Jesus did not take human emotions lightly. He knew exactly how much trouble they could cause if one gave in to them. I am sure that is one of the reasons He frequently sought alone time with God. He knew He HAD to stay close to the Father, every moment of the day. This was one example He gave us of how to survive in the flesh and not fall into temptations. Constant communion with Father! He also showed us how to fight against Satan, using God's word (Matt 4:1-11), resting when we need to (Matt 8:24), and in the gathering of the disciples He showed us the importance of a supportive faith community!

His simple, yet profound prayer in the garden showed us what we should all do in times of great crisis and pain, times of fear and exhaustion, times of sorrow and anguish, even in times of hope and anticipation: "Not my will, but Yours be done."

I recently had a sort of come-to-Jesus moment in my life. Emotions were running high and I was faced with a hard decision. One that would very much change my life. I could run towards this issue. Face it and work it out. Or I could run and choose the easy way. The calmer waters full of instant gratification and self righteousness. So I prayed, but it was one of those prayers where you THINK God is going to agree with you, ya know those? Well just imagine how I felt when He gave me very clear instructions to do exactly what I DID NOT want to do! Funny how that works isn't it? ;)

So, after crying my eyes out and having a little pity party, I said, "Okay, not my will, but Yours be done." And you know what? The weight of this issue, which before felt suffocating, was suddenly lighter. Peace has been filling me ever so slowly and gently as each day passes that I keep choosing to live in His will. I have not seen the fruit of this decision yet, but the obedience and trust in the Father is more important than the result itself. I know I am on the road God wants me to be on. I just need to quit thinking I know a short cut, because He has the map! ;) "Not my will, but Yours be done." Not my way, but YOUR way Lord!

Is there anything in your life to need to let go of? Or maybe even trying to let go of before God has told you to? Ask God about it today! With a humble heart and listening ears say "Not my will, but Yours be done," and see what peace comes when you walk in His will! I would love to discuss this with you all in the comments. Have a blessed Holy Week my SUM family!

Amanda