Why I Chose To Get Involved - In Spite Of Having To Do It Alone

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here!

Martin-sanchez-JkHwlB9lMT8-unsplashThose who have followed my story for a while have seen the struggle to let go of the fear of man. There have been many times when I would shrink back from what God was calling me to do because I didn't know how my husband would react. Would he approve? Would he leave me? Would he still love me? These are real struggles in the SUM life!

December 29, 2021, I let that fear go. I said good-bye forever. This is not to say that it has been easy these last couple of months. My tenacity to press into the "next right steps" of the Lord's leading has grown. So has my husband's visible frustration at my local civil involvement.

On New Year's Eve, 2021, God opened up some time for me to reflect on the upcoming year. I had the chance to be completely alone with Him and dig into the Word. What was revealed to me was pretty amazing. I would like to share with you what I learned. Perhaps you too have felt the nudge to get involved in your local community. I want you to be released from any anxiety, confusion or doubt that God is calling you.

The Holy Trinity has got your back:

  • God the Father - exalts and promotes

Psalm 75:6-7 : For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the judge; he puts down one; and exalts another.

Isaiah 14:27 : For the Lord of Hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

Job 42:2 : I know that you can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from you.

  • God the Son - the government is upon Jesus' shoulders...not YOURS

Isaiah 9:6-7 : For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.

  • God the Holy Spirit - guides and equips

Matthew 10: 18-20 : You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake as a testimony to them and to the gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 : Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Important things to remember:

Government - there is much corruption, dark secrets, greed, Satanism. In order to walk "in" this world and yet shine and pierce the darkness I have to -

  • Cling to Jesus, John 15:1-17

v. 4 - Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

  • Hold higher standards (integrity, purity)

Exodus 23:8 : And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous.

  • Understand the times and know what to do

1 Chronicles 12:32 : of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command;

  • Let go of any preconceived notions - God is doing a new thing

Isaiah 43:18-19 : Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.

  • Keep standing

Ephesians 6:13 : Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

You hold the keys:

Matthew 16:19 : And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth [a]will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Isaiah 22:22 : The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open.

You will make all the difference:

Jeremiah 29:7 : And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

Proverbs 29:2 : When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.

1 John 2:20 : But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

In our SUM walk, it can be lonely when our spouse doesn't agree or support the things that God asks us to do. It may even be down right hard. Trust me, I know.

But God - He has equipped us with everything we need. We have the Holy Spirit. The entirety of the Kingdom of Heaven is accessible to us!

The Lord has called me to the "mountain of government." It may not be the case for you. Regardless of what your calling looks like, it is important in God's eyes. A stay at home mom, a retired worker, a teacher, a government official, a blogger, a public servant, an entrepreneur. God has something that only YOU can do. You matter!

Lynn, Ann, Martha, Ian, Dineen - these great leaders of faith in our community are great examples for us. Their testimony can be encouragement to us. Look at how their faith, trust and hope in Jesus has led them to closer relationship with God - and wow have their spouses grown because of it!

Let's talk in the comments, what has God called you to do in your sphere of influence? How can we pray for you in this area of your life?

Blessings!


Congratulations Ann Hutchison

Ann Hutchison and husbandLynn Donovan here. It is with great joy that I announce that the Board of Directors of Three Keys Ministries has agreed to ordain for ministry, Ann Hutchison. Ann has faithfully served this community now for several years. She is a woman after God's own heart, a sold-out follower of Christ, and a woman that indwells the Holy Spirit. Ann has led this amazing community and spends hours writing, praying and encouraging the believers in the faith. I could spend an hour relaying her service here at SUM! I'm so deeply thankful for Ann!

I'm so honored and privileged to serve Christ Jesus at her side. A certificate of Ordination has been sent to her in New Zealand. 

Congratulations Ann!!!

Below Ann shares her SUM journey and how she came to leadership. Please leave her a note of encouragement. Hugs. Lynn

_____

Many of you know my general story. Fourteen years into my marriage, I turned to Jesus and was plunged into being spiritually mismatched -- Aggh! Yes, those first years were extremely difficult, and I won’t ever forget how much I needed this ministry.

I was the last person who would have felt able to front a website about being mismatched in marriage – I was too shy and it was too sensitive a subject. But sometimes God has other ideas than we do.

In 2018, having volunteered for SUM for a while, I suddenly felt that God was calling me to ministry. This is an unusual thing to handle when your spouse is not a believer! It was a strong conviction and quite the surprise. I left my job, even, led by God to do so. Meanwhile over in California something was happening with Lynn: She was nurturing a surprising conviction that her husband, Mike, would be baptized soon (impossible!) and she was to hand over the baton of this ministry. 

It was amazing what happened next: Mike did get baptized, suddenly, in March 2019. And so Lynn knew the baton was to be passed. I was available, off work, and began helping her a little more.

Eventually it did seem I was to lead the ministry, and at that point I remembered God had said to me years earlier that I’d be ‘Leading worship’ here. I love that analogy. Leading SUM does mean leading worship, for we’re worshippers of God foremost. Our marriages and families seem to naturally inch towards Jesus when we make worshipping Him our everything.

As for Bryce, well this part is amazing to me too: He started to visibly accept my faith just as Lynn was steadily handing over the baton. It was as if my tough season was over so that I could at least be cheerful enough from the front. Things changed for our kids as he changed, and last year one of our two teens even started coming to church with me.

I love our community so much; I think about you all the time and I’m captivated by the story God is writing among us. We see change and we see miracles, and the above testimony is just one example. I’m also so thankful for the groundwork of Lynn and Dineen who helped many of us grow, and I cherish my fellow writers, Ian and Tiffany, and our other teammates who do much behind the scenes.

Thank you for your love, and here’s to a vibrant 2022 together!


When God Reveals His Upper Hand

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here!

Not too long ago I posted an update about my house. I mentioned that I had written scripture throughout my (current construction) house with my children and grandparents. We went around to each of the rooms and took turns with markers and scripture in hand.

I came back some time later, maybe a week or two, to pray in our house. I like to take every opportunity to spend some quiet time in there - praying, dreaming, praising and inviting the Kingdom of Heaven to come and dwell.

I noticed that there were a couple of scriptures written that weren't there before. I was excited and my heart filled with joy. Could one of the construction workers be a believer? Could they be praying along with me?

Before I got to excited - I had a check in my spirit. Don't ASSUME that things are in good standing. Satan masquerades as an angel of light.

Rev 2_9I took out my phone and opened up my Bible app -

“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. - Revelation 2:9

I asked my husband if he had written any scripture in the house - not telling him what I had discovered. He said no. I begin to laugh and tell him what I had found; showing him the picture, I said, I would normally be angry about this...BUT - I have spent so much time praying over our house, even before we signed papers. I have written scripture throughout the house and anointed it. The devil will not steal my joy.

I was surprised to hear his response of the mystery writer, "Well that was really rude of them!" In his own way, he took defense for my efforts and I could sense a righteous anger about him. I called it a win in the Carter book.

Fast forward to January 20, 2022. Lynn taught a powerhouse End Times Seminar. There was so much revelation in this session. One thing that REALLY stuck out to me was this verse:

Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. - Revelation 3:9

Did you catch that?? What the enemy means for evil, God means for good!

I may butcher this but Lynn mentioned that Revelation 3:9 is prophetic for our SUM community. Listen, we sometimes walk a hard and lonely road. We have to endure the persecution from our spouses; their misunderstandings; their lack of support; their opposition. BUT God! Won't He use our journey, our testimony to bring about our spouses to salvation?! Won't He bring our spouses to us and honor us for our righteous living and strong stance for the Kingdom of Heaven? This is NOT to say that our spouses will worship US - but God will reveal His deep love for us to our spouses someday. I do pray that it is this side of Heaven. I don't expect a huge fanfare by any means. However, I can't wait to see the day when my husband worships the King of Kings and Lord of Lords WITH ME. I've had a few dreams about this glorious day. I'm praying them into fruition.

Whatever you are going through, just know that God is faithful. He sees your efforts. He hears your cries. He spurs and cheers you on along with the saints in Heaven.

In some ways it feels like my husband takes 2 steps forward and 1 step back. We do not live based on what we see or experience in the natural.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. - Galatians 6:9

Don't give up. Don't give in. God is fighting for us.

I bless you with perseverance, joy, strength, tenacity and grit in Jesus' name.

See you in the comments!


From Spiritually Mismatched to Jointly Present

By Ann Hutchison Tea and biscuits

Dear friends, I shared last week about the small group I've been attending. Well, today I want to share a very encouraging story from that group.

There's a man in that group who's a great sharer. He's jolly, enthusiastic, and loves God. He brings plenty of ideas about faith to our group chats. He's in his sixties, and he and his wife have adult children. 

One night the group was mingling as the evening was wrapping up. Some were in the kitchen, others were in the living room, and I was sat on a couch beside this particular man and his wife. She was next to me, he was on the other side of her talking to someone else, and so she and I got quietly talking.

She began to tell me her story. It went like this:

"I actually went to church on my own for years. He wasn't interested, he never came with me. I was on my own in my faith for a long time."

She smiled at me.

I peeked around her to take another look at her hubby, a bemused look on my face. Are we talking about the same man? Then I focused on her again.

"Was that hard for you?" I asked. 

"Was it ever!" she rolled her eyes.

We shared a cheeky smile.

"So what happened next?" 

"Oh, he just gradually got there. Bit by bit, slowly things changed. He's only just started coming to this group. He would never have gone to something like this before."

I peered around her discreetly at him again.

"Amazing." I said with a big smile.

"Yes, amazing." She grinned back.

Looking at that man today, all I can see is one who loves being with God first thing in the morning, attends church, reads Christian books, plays worship music in the home for his own enjoyment, and gets his wife to do devotionals with him in the morning.

Well there we go. The joy of this story is that I will get to see this visible example weekly from now on at my small group, and they are a living breathing example of a spiritually mismatched couple who had one season then another season. 

In this ministry we need these examples, as hope is an important element of our spiritually mismatched walk. God wants us to hope because he doesn't want us to label our spouse as an impossible case (he wants us to bless our spouse not curse them, James 3:10) and he wants us to believe in His magnitude. 

It's summed up well here:

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7, NKJV)

So, while we must learn to be content in our circumstance (very important) and love our spouse exactly where they are (also very important), hey let's seize stories like this so that we can hope and believe that there is a bigger possibility beyond what our circumstance looks like today.

Hope you liked that story. Love you all,

Ann


The Day My Husband Entered the Small Group Scene

Ann here, and I thought the title would make you smile. Yes indeed, I have a little story to tell today. Welcome

In Monday's post I left off where my small group had said: "Do invite your husband to the Christmas dinner, we would love to meet him."

Gulp!

Now, Bryce has said to me on a number of occasions that he finds the whole 'small group' concept difficult. He has a bad experience of growing up in an unhealthy and spiritually controlling church, and from that experience he was concerned that any small group I joined would be 'cultish and weird'. Those were hard words to hear, but hey, if this is how our spouse sees these things it's probably helpful to know. If we know, then we can try to understand and try to address it. Anyway, given all of that historical 'stuff' the thought of now inviting him to a small group Christmas dinner was not easy!

I wonder, though, whether at some point we all turn a corner where things become different? Where faith or church are not so contentious any more? Anyway, the long and short of it is that I plucked up the courage and asked him.

And ..... 

He said yes. No problem at all. Just like that. He said his 'yes' so easily, in fact, that I had to leave the room to process this massive new development, which felt like breaking news.

Now here's that same scene I described on Monday where I stand at a closed front door, behind which lies a small group, and I'm wondering how on earth this thing is going to go. Except this time my husband is standing by my side.

I hold a salad, he's carrying wine, and we're ready for a good time. He's perfectly cheerful but I've got a pounding heart. Why? It's the first time we've gone through the doors of church together since those difficult church days of his. Yes, it's only a small-group dinner, but it's the church.

We enter, join the chattering crowd on the back patio of the house, and before I can barely introduce him ... off he goes. Into a happy crowd and away from my side. And so the evening continued. Ann Bryce

Later, as the sun set, he and I were sat in a circle of comfy outdoor armchairs chatting with some of the others about church and other things. He liked them, they liked him. At that moment I looked up to see a beautiful rainbow in the dusky sunset. I took it as a wink from God and thanked Him -- Seriously, seriously thanked Him -- for this moment.

Oh my dear SUM friends, it was a fascinating turning of a corner, and I know you understand the emotions around this sort of thing. It was indeed 'breaking news' for it broke some kind of barrier. It also broke away some of my own lingering angst about our spiritual mismatch, bringing us together and showing me all over again 'God's got this'.

Some of us have spouses who do visit church or its social events; others of us find that area more tricky. But however it looks now, things can always change --

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

Does your spouse come to church or social events or not? Let's chat more in the comments.

Love you loads,

Ann


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The Day I Entered the 'Small Group' Scene

Ann here! Tea and biscuits

With Bryce not attending church with me, one of the questions I've often asked myself is whether it would be a good thing for me to join a small group ... Or not, given my circumstances.

Like many churches, mine has a home-group scene where people meet weekly at each other's homes. The idea is they build connections, care for each other, encourage each other, and have stimulating discussions.

It sounds great, but I can already hear a collective sigh here because it's usually not so simple for us.

First, these groups are either full of couples, or full of singles, and we struggle to fit. Second, our spouse might feel we're already leaving them on a Sunday, and now we want to leave them for an additional evening each week. That's in addition to all the other time we spend on our faith activities.

In fact, years ago when I asked Bryce if he'd mind me attending a small group it turned into one of the worst conversations we've had. He expressed very clearly that yes, he would mind very much!! I wrote about that story recently, it was not a good day. 

Difficult as it is, we do need to be with believers regularly, we do need to build Christian friendships, and we do need to fight for that. The reason we need to fight is that our spiritual survival hangs on it. That said, church community can take many forms and a 'small group' may or may not be the right format depending on where things are at in our marriage. A regular coffee with two other Christian friends might be just as good and easier to fit with your spouse.

When I joined my new church last year I was invited to a small group and, despite all the past conversations between Bryce and me about this issue, this time it seemed right.

By then Bryce was no longer appalled by the idea. I'd worked hard over a number of years to balance church and our marriage and he, in turn, had done some thinking. He didn't miss the opportunity to tease me when he heard it was a 'small group' but I said "I love you", gave him a kiss and off I went.

So now we get to me ringing the doorbell and arriving at said small group ...

The door opens, I step in, and I get hugged by everybody: Eight couples in their fifties and sixties and one other lady on her own. There is tea, coffee and food. Yum! I'm keen, but I do wonder if I'll cope being around couples. I'm not sure if I'd have coped with this until now, in fact.

Armed with our tea, and now sitting, we start to talk about Sunday's sermon topic using discussion questions. Now I'm loving it because all I want is to talk about faith, all the time, and I'm always in need of this!

That was the first taste, and I didn't fall over from 'Coupledom misery'. But over the weeks, hearing about their faith lives in detail, I did begin to see just how different a SUM walk is to a couples faith walk. It is different.

I would find myself driving home thinking two things. (1) "I'm more intense than they are because of the SUM." And, (2) "I don't fit." 

Still, I continued, and the 'not fitting' became a lie I needed to dispel. Why? I am part of the Body of Christ. I fit.

As the months went on, I actually found surprising treasures. For one, I loved getting to see guys' faith. And, second, I noticed how different the gifts and experiences within this group are. That part broadened my view, and I began to feel I was understanding the Body of Christ better... Simply by sitting with people who are different to me. 

My verdict? Being part of a small group has been beneficial and I will continue, but it's worked because the timing and fit was right. I guess, as with anything, we just have to pray about it and always follow God's lead about what's right for our circumstances.

There's part two to this story, next. Hold onto your hats:

Christmas rolled around, it was time for the group's Christmas dinner, and up came this offer "Please do invite your husband, we would love to meet him!" What happened next I will share next time... 

Do you go to a small group, or have you done? I'd love to hear.


Praying for Adult Children

By Ann Hutchison Adult baby birds

Recently I was on the phone to my mum and told her I was going to take my two boys on a hike without Bryce. This sent her into instant Mum-anxiety mode. Breathing heavily down the phone she said, "Will you be ok?" and ... "Make sure you take water."

So funny. She will never stop acting like my Mum. Even though I am 46. To her I am like the big baby bird in this picture here -- Big, but still her baby.

I know many of you watch your adult children with baited breath: You watch them exercise their free will in matters that may get them lost ... And so does God watch them. I still have this to come, but I can only imagine how easy it is to get anxious about an adult child.

As an adult child myself who was spiritually lost, one day my Mum ever-so-gently gave me a book as a gift -- A Christian book. It was called Journey into God's heart by Jennifer Rees Larcombe. It was a powerful spiritual memoir and testimony. I read it on the plane home after visiting my parents and by the end of the plane journey I was bawling. That book had a big part to play in bringing me to God. Behind the scenes, of course, was my Mum.

Jennifer Rees Larcombe, that book's author, is now a minister in the UK and, because her book brought me to God I have a special love for her ministry (Beauty from Ashes). She remains one of my favorite people to read on Facebook. She is also a grandparent and has six adult children, some of whom have walked through some really tough stuff. 

Last week she posted this question on Facebook, and I'm going to repeat it because the replies people gave contained so much helpful stuff. She said: Jen's post

Could you help me with your practical tips?
I never know how to pray for my grown up children so I have a stone for each of them and, one by one, I pick them up and lift them to the Lord. What helps you?
 
Then she posted a photo of the stones .. Which I just had to include because it's lovely. I love the fact the stones are all different, capturing the uniqueness of each child.
 
Even better, in the comments an array of wonderful suggestions came back. Here's the link to the Facebook page where you can see all the suggestions more fully, which are well worth reading (the post is on 27 January), but for now here are some of the suggestions people gave:
 
- Make prayer for your adult children a daily routine; 
 
- Use a poem, hymn, or passage of scripture and insert their names into it, reading it out loud;
 
- Remember to thank God for these children and thank him for looking after them;
 
- Use a photo as a prompt to pray for them when looking at it. (One lady said she keeps a photo of each child in her Bible, another said she has a mug with their faces on and when she drinks from it she'll pray).
 
- Journal words of prayer and blessing over them.
(One lady said she writes their names down and then doodles creatively, writing ideas and words as she prays).
 
- And finally, don't forget simple prayers of simple trust, for sometimes we just don't have the words.
"Lord, I lift them up to you", "Lord, enter their lives", and "Lord I entrust my children to you."
 
There was so much more, and I was hesitant to copy people's individual responses so I kept the above summary broad, but if this topic speaks to you do take a look at the Facebook post (you don't have to be on Facebook to be able to read the post).
 
As for us, how about we answer the same question here: How do you pray for your adult children?
 
Nice chatting, 
Ann

Shift Your Focus

Pexels-ethan-sees-2853432
Photo by Ethan Sees from Pexels

Happy New Year, my friends. I know it’s now February. Wow, where did January go? But this is my first post of 2022. I’m so looking forward to this year.

Where is our Focus?

A new year often brings new beginnings, new hopes, new challenges. Often it simply brings more of the same just in a new year. We can get caught up in channelling our focus and our thoughts on newness or on the existing. For those of us who can grapple with anxiety or worry, we can continue to allow ourselves to focus on the worries or the fears or the things that are making us anxious.

For many of us SUMites, the mismatched nature of our marriage will often feature prominently in our thoughts. Will 2022 be the year we see breakthrough? Will our partner find the Lord? And what if they don’t?

May I encourage you to simply take a few moments now (yes, stop reading this post) and simply ask the Lord to help you see what are some of the thoughts that are pre-occupying you at present? Why not jot them down.

The Enemy is a liar!

The Devil is a liar! John 8:44 tells us this. He will happily engage our minds with worries and fears that are simply … lies. I was reminded of this last week when I read a lovely post from Corrie Ten Boon1. She wrote of a day she was convinced she was coming down with the flu. It was also effecting her eyes as she was struggling to see properly. Corrie had to give a talk and was so consumed by her fear that she didn’t do it well.

“It is impossible to listen to the Lord’s voice while listening to our own fear. Fear is loud, insistent and time-consuming.”

That statement just hit me between the eyes. Because fear is just like that, isn’t it?

To conclude Corrie’s story, her secretary who had been sick happened to listen to her talk. Corrie was surprised to see her as she thought she’d be home in bed. But her secretary realised she had Corrie’s glasses by mistake and wanted to exchange them. They swapped glasses and ‘miraculously’ Corrie’s symptoms disappeared. She had been wearing the wrong glasses.

“When we agree with fear, our symptoms continue … instead of partnering with my symptoms, if I would have sought the Lord, perhaps I would have noticed Him pointing to what was really happening.”

Ever partnered with your fears, worries or symptoms?

Shift our Focus

Worry, fear and anxiety mean our hearts and minds are focused on something else. Jesus asks us to focus on Him. That doesn’t necessarily mean that our circumstances will change, it just means that we are able to hear from Him in our circumstance.

I love reading the Psalms, especially David’s. They express all our emotions: fear, worry, ecstasy, joy, peace and so on. David, as we know, did great things but also some not-so-great things. Often, he struggled when he’d taken his eyes off the Lord.

Psalm 16 is a wonderful psalm of hope. I particularly appreciate these words:

"I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure" (v 7-9)

He reminds us that when we keep our focus on the Lord we will not be shaken.

For many of us in mismatched marriages, we keep questioning why it’s taking so long, what do we need to do different or better. We might also worry about the things we feel we can’t do because of our partner won’t like it and it can all get a little overwhelming. Can’t it?

But Jesus simply asks us to shift our focus. Stop thinking about the worries, the issues, the shortcomings, the why nots, and start looking at Him. And not to take our eyes off Him.

Next time I will share a little on how we can shift our focus. How can we develop greater discipline in keeping our eyes on Jesus. In the interim, may I encourage you to spend time reading a Psalm of David’s. 16 or 91(probably written by Moses) or 23 are great places to linger. Linger. Spend a week, a month just lingering on the psalm. And pray them like a prayer, put yourself in David’s shoes.

Grace and peace, my friends.

1. Corrie Ten Boom, God is My Hiding Place: 40 Devotions for Refuge and Strength (Chosen Books, Minneapolis, 2021), 101.


Lynn Donovan Speaking at Marriage Conference

Hi SUMite Nation. Lynn Donovan here.

I was asked to speak to at the Equipping Godly Women Conference this year. The lineup of speakers is amazing. I'm humbled to be part of it. This is an online, three-day conference, February 15-18, 2022.

Right now the conference is offering quite an incentive to register. 

Equipping Godly Women Conference Giveaway 2022

For more information and to register, visit: Thrive Marriage Conference. I'll see you there. Hugs, Lynn


Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness - That is Who You Are

Hello SUM family, Tiffany here! Joe-yates-wNOymf_yTUA-unsplash

I was overwhelmed with joy to see so many reach out for prayer earlier this week. Friends, I just love this community so much. It is amazing what a treasure chest we have in our church without walls.

There was a time when I was STRUGGLING to hold on to hope in my marriage. It got so bad at one point that I thought, "I've just dropped my kids off at daycare. I wonder what would happen if I just took a drive and kept on going." I never want to leave my family - but the lies and attacks on my life had me CONVINVED that I wasn't right for my husband and kids. I began to believe that they were better off without me. I know now that it had so much to do with how I viewed my husband. We were caught in a vicious cycle (one the I kept perpetuating with the negative I was speaking over my household).

If this is you right now - listen to me. Things CAN turn around. It may look impossible. BUT God!

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. -- 1 Corinthians 7:14

Those who have been in the community for a while, or read Lynn and Dineen's books, would know that this verse is key to our SUM. There is a GRACE upon our marriage as we travel this unique path of life. Recently there was a post in the SUMite Sisters in Christ Facebook page. I won't share the original question but I want to share a little bit of my response:

There is no guilt or shame in the Kingdom of Heaven. We walk a tightrope, or so it feels, at times. We teeter and feel we have to watch our every step...but the grace of God is upon you. We don't have to struggle with who do I serve? We know we serve God first. But because of our SUM and our love for our spouse, there is a grace upon the things we do. This is not an excuse for sinful living but a release to honor our husband (wife) while still serving the Lord.

This is the embodiment of 1 Corinthians 7:14. Our faith, our hope and our trust in Jesus Christ speaks volumes in Heaven. We have the power and authority to intercede for our spouse and children. How we speak, whether audible or only in thought can literally alter the atmosphere around us. When we choose to bicker, harbor bitterness, be filled with contempt, hatred or rage - we are opening the door to the forces of darkness to wreak havoc on our lives.

I have been there before. I remember living in the toxic cloud of disappointment, anger, depression, hopelessness. It was HEAVY!

I've recently fallen in love with the John 16:13. This has quickly become my life verse.

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."

I want to give a couple of things that Holy Spirt gracefully yet clearly taught me in order to combat the toxicity of those early years.

  1. Repent. Ask the Lord for forgiveness for anything that you personally have done to add to the contention in your marriage. This must be done in the secret place with the Father. I know there are some who are living with spouses with substance abuse, narcissism, etc. These are not things that God wants you to simply get over and force yourself to make it work. Marriage was not designed by God for an abuse of power of one over another. It was not designed for a "slave and master" scenario. Get into time with the Lord and ask of anything that is your responsibility to carry. I had to repent of so much bitterness, anger, guilt, lying, keeping secrets, manipulation, etc.
  2. Forgive. In forgiving, we release the weight off our shoulders and into the arms of the Father. In the secret place, allow Holy Spirit to reveal to you where any unforgiveness lies. Again, marriage was not designed by God for an abuse of power of one over another. In forgiving, you do NOT have to completely let your guard down. Forgiving releases you from the issue that caused you to harbor unforgiveness. It is not giving your spouse an excuse to keep on violating the boundaries of your marriage.
  3. Bless / give thanks. This was hard for me at first. Our flesh does not want to do good toward someone who has offended you. BUT, our words can speak either life or death. I had to "force" myself - meaning press past the feelings and emotions of it all - to take this step. The more I would willingly choose to do this, the more the Holy Spirit would bring to my heart and mind. Wouldn't you know that in this step, the stony stubborn layers of my heart began to melt and soften.
  4. Remind yourself (and God) of the promises that He has spoken over your marriage, husband, life. Just like the countless times in the Bible God told His people to REMEMBER...we should do the same. Begin to take notes on what God is revealing to you. Open them up and pray out those things to the Lord. God LOVES to be reminded of His word. He doesn't forget. However, coming into agreement with His word means coming into agreement with His heart.
  5. Invite Holy Spirit. This one is so important. As I mature in my faith, I realize how vital He is to my life. Holy Spirit was SENT FOR US. He is the one who is here on Earth today. Jesus and God are in Heaven. Pray something like this. I will use my husband as the example, "Holy Spirit fill the atmosphere so full of You that Jason cannot help but breathe You in. Jason cannot help but become more loving, kind, patient, wise, strong, blessed, healed, whole and restored because He is breathing You in. Holy Spirit as Jason breathes You in, He is being filled with You. There is NO room for any other spirit because You are so thick and tangible in Him. Jason is highly favored and marked for righteousness. He is clothed in victory. He is surrounded by good and perfect things from above...." Keep going as the Holy Spirit leads you.

I hope that these things have helped in some way. I would love to hear what the Holy Spirit is teaching (or has taught) you in regards to your marriage. Do you have any tools that we can be adding to our belts?

Blessings family. May you truly know and understand the depth of the love the Father has for you. I speak hope, joy, love, peace and a sound mind over you today.


Seeing the Manifestation of the Goodness of God

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! 20220123_131539

I recently opened up my Bible to spend time with the Lord. "Somehow"  (grin...isn't God good like that?) I turned to a bible passage that I had been reading three years TO THE EXACT DATE. I wasn't even looking for this passage, nor did I remember I had taken notes on the very pages I was about to read. Let's take a look shall we?

 

I will extol You, my God, O King;

And I will bless Your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless You,

And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;

And His greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall praise Your works to another,

And shall declare Your mighty acts.

-- Psalm 145:1-4

I had underlined and circled many things in these verses. My notes are as follows:

Extol - highly praised.

vv. 1-3: It isn't enough to say that God is great. How I view God will manifest in how I praise Him. To the measure that I praise Him is the measure that I believe in His greatness. He is great and worthy of praise. Period. But, do I believe it?

v. 4: Will I praise His works to my children and teach them to praise as well?

My friends, I don't know if you can sense the doubt, guilt and shame here. I know I can. I looked at these notes and it took me to the Tiffany in 2019. I could see myself in my old house - that in and of itself is prophetic, literally closing on an old house and in transition while waiting for a new one to be completed. It took me back to an insecure woman who was riddled with an orphan spirit. I was struggling with addiction to spending money, lots of money, when depressed, stressed, angry with my husband. I was stuck in a cycle of outburst of anger. All of these things compiled together in an attack of my faith and witness to my husband and children. How could I make a difference for my husband and children for God? How could I be salt and light? I was WAY too salty - spouting religion, performance. I was a white washed tomb.

Oh how I wish you could have truly seen me then. Not the Tiffany that you see here in our church without walls but the one my family saw. Day in. Day out.

Even as I type this now for you, I smile. The massive change that God has done in my life since I wrote the above notes.  I've experienced breakthrough in many amazing ways over the years. Even since first marrying Jason and having kids beginning in 2013. However, I would do what Paul warned about in Galatians 5:1, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

Quite honestly, it wasn't until December 29, 2021 that I resolved in my heart to NEVER turn back again. I signed up for a healing prayer session with Lynn. I have had them before with her. This time though, I knew that something would be different. I can't put into words how to describe it. Between being fed up with the constant unhealthy cycles I would go through (think of the Israelites, I mean how many judges did God need to send? This was my life!)  and the destiny and calling on my life in THIS SEASON - I couldn't "afford" for it not to be life changing. Oh boy, did Holy Spirit meet me there. The power, the deliverance, the healing.

Can God propel you into overdrive? Can He redeem lost time? Can He expedite healing, learning? Can He set you on course to the calling on your life? Can He turn chaos and destruction the devil causes in your life and turn it into power, authority and purpose for His glory? A RESOUNDING YES! This is the season I am in right now. 

Lynn told me to ask God in my private prayer time - what does He have for me in this next season? What are the practical next steps that God wants me to do? I asked these things of Him more. I always ask a word or theme that God has for the new calendar year. This year I heard - 2022, Obedience and follow through.

I have heard from many people over the years that I hear pretty clearly from God. I've given words that He's asked me to share and over and over the response is - this is exactly what I've need to hear. This is exactly what I've asked God about. Even in my own prayer time - He always answers. Hearing hasn't been the problem. I've always struggled being obedient - saying okay God. I will do it.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. -- James 1:22

When I would be obedient to what God has asked me to do, I would fizzle out because second guessing, doubting, fear, anxiety, guilt and shame.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. -- Hebrews 12:1-3

I have been in a big fight for the children - not just mine but these next generations. It has been my passion for a long time but especially since my children became school aged. My next practical steps for 2022 is to get engaged in the school board. I have been researching the school libraries in our district. My goal is to eventually know what is in every school library in Nebraska. There are very harmful things available to our children. I believe that God will have me see the removal of many if not all of them. I recently told someone in an email regarding this endeavor, "My tenacity to research has only grown as God fills me with righteous anger for our children." I can see myself speaking to parents in other school districts about how to research and engage the school boards. I can see God using me to be salt and light in the school system and even higher forms of government. It's been confirmed on multiple occasions that I've been called to the "mountain of government."

I am like Jeremiah, "But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!" (20:9) The craziest thing that has happened since my healing prayer session, I embody this verse. When I am stirred up and passionate about the Kingdom of God, it feels as if there is a literal fire in my chest...I can actually FEEL the Holy Spirit burning inside of me. It gives me strength. It gives me courage. It gives me boldness. It gives me faith. It gives me hope. It spurs me on to keep running this very important race.

My prayer for our SUM community this that each and every one of us will truly grasp and understand how God sees us. We are powerful, set free, CHILDREN of God. There is NOTHING that can hinder the love He has for us. He is so proud of you. He has such great things in store for you. You are NOT overlooked. You are NOT too far gone. You are NOT a mistake, burden or any other lie from the pit of Hell. You may be tired and weary from the battle. But God! He has a word for you:

Listen to Me, [insert your name here],

And all the remnant of the house of Israel,

Who have been upheld by Me from birth,

Who have been carried from the womb:

Even to your old age, I am He,

And even to gray hairs I will carry you!

I have made, and I will bear;

Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

-- Isaiah 46:3-4

Let's meet in the comments, I truly would love to pray over you and give you a word of encouragement. I believe that if you would be bold enough to comment, even with a simple hand raised emoji (He knows the details of your circumstances, even if we don't in the community) - He will give a word just for you. I bless you with the fullness of understanding of WHO you are and WHOSE you are. I love you!


Entering 2022 as a Community

Dear friends 2022 2

It's Ann here, and today I want to share some thoughts about 2022 for us as a community.

At this time of year I spend some time praying about the year and asking God if there are any particular themes for us as a community. For 2022, here's what seems to be on my mind:

The SUM walk is so multi-faceted in the kinds of issues we face and the skills we have to develop in order to thrive. In fact, it's not only multi-faceted, but it is long. Some SUMites do have an experience where their spouse joins them in faith quickly, but for most of us the SUM journey is like a marathon or high-altitude mountain climb. It's high-risk, tiring, and takes endurance.

This year, I think what God is saying is, hone your skills, equip each other for the climb, and persevere

Yes, persevere.

These are just some of the complex facets we have to tackle specifically because we are in a spiritually mismatched marriage:

  • Tackle our own doubts, and hold fast to our basic belief in Jesus.
  • Understand God's heart for unbelievers and his plans for humanity
  • Stay connected to church when it feels almost impossible to do so.
  • Understand Satan and demons, and know how to fight them.
  • Take on the solo responsibility for our children's faith lives
  • Learn about prayer, including using our authority in the spirit realm
  • Learn to love our spouse well and be a great marriage partner
  • Set good boundaries within and around our marriages
  • Develop a strong devotional life 
  • Learn to hear and discern God's voice
  • Build a healthy personal community around ourselves.

Phew -- There's a lot there. And though it is the spiritual equivalent of a high-altitude mountain climb, a lot of what we go through seems to be about training ourselves in the above areas over and over. 

Now, I'm not a climber myself but my Dad was (he's still alive, but older now). As a child I remember he would go off to climb mountains in Europe, taking pick axes, ropes, pulleys, crampons, pouches of dried food, compasses, maps and more. It was serious business. He would also go in a team: Mountaineers have to work together to keep each other safe. 

That's what I feel we're going to do here in SUM in 2022. We have unmovable mountains to conquer: The mountains of our spouse's and family's unbelief. So, to face those we have to dig deep, roll up our sleeves, decide we're not going to give up, and keep equipping ourselves together.  

There's a fabulous documentary on Netflix about high-altitude mountaineering called '14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible'. It's about a Nepalese man who climbed all fourteen high-altitude peaks in the world in record time -- Within a year. These were peaks over 8,000m. He took a team of fellow mountaineers and the documentary follows all of their climbs. It is an absolute inspiration to watch. The sheer grit that he displays, the skill level, the fatigue, all of it .... Amazing. He called his feat Project Possible, because people told him it was impossible. He came out victorious, and so can we. 

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

Dear SUMites, this year -- 2022 -- I'm looking forward to us becoming even stronger, even more perseverant, and even more equipped to walk out our faith in our unique marriages. 

Now here's a question for you: Which of the above issues would you particularly like to see us write about this year?

Love to you all

Ann


Seminar on the End-Times Church, 20 January

Hi everyone, Ann here. Church

You'll remember a few weeks ago on Giving Tuesday that we mentioned a seminar that Lynn would be running on the end-times church. Well, that seminar is going to be this Thursday, 20 January, at 11am Pacific time (note that's USA time -- So, it's Friday for those of us in Australia/New Zealand).

It will be a LIVE seminar, and a great opportunity to see other SUMites in person and interact. 

If you're a reader of Lynn's blog you'll likely already have seen this seminar mentioned. I've copied below a little of what she had to say about it. Note that if you donated at the time of Giving Tuesday (thank you!) your access to this is free. Lynn will send you the link to the seminar automatically and you need do nothing more. Otherwise, there's a fee of $49 and you can register by going over to Lynn's blog and signing up there. Here's the link for that.

In Lynn's words here's what the seminar will cover:

  • The initiation of the plan of God. And the Mystery of God. (Ephesians 1:9-11)
  • Lucifer's fall. I will answer this question: Why, after thousands of years serving the Lord, did Lucifer betray God. It's pride but what caused that prideful fall? I know the answer and can't wait to tell you.
  • Who is a Gentile, A Jew, the Church. and the Nepheline THESE four parts of humanity matter a great deal to the telling of the story.
  • We will cover Matthew 24, all the scriptures in the New Testament and Revelation.
  • We will gain understanding of the entire plan.
  • We will look at revelation and see how those scriptures are being fulfilled before our very eyes. 
  • We will examine the Day of the Lord, the Judgement Seat of Christ, the Day of Wrath and the antichrist.
  • We will discover the truth, based scripture upon scripture, of the last days. Understand what is to come and the purpose of the church in these days.
  • YOU WILL BE GREATLY ENCOURAGED.

Finally, it will be two and a half hours long, so come armed with Bible and make yourself comfy for the session.

I can't wait to see some of you there in person and I get the feeling we may continue to talk about some of these issues here on this blog over the early part of 2022.

Ann


Our Homes and Families, Fasting our Final Day

Community Fast -- The Final Day

We are very nearly there .. Oh what a great feeling! Fast and pray 2022

If you're fasting food you may be feeling somewhat out of it by now, and so relieved that we're nearly there. You've nearly done it! And however you've fasted, God honors your efforts. Hiccups and all.

Fasting afflicts our soul, sends us crashing to the floor in weakness, makes us like vulnerable newborn babies.

But equally, it's a common adventure for us as a community, and that part I love. We've been doing this together for years now, and each year we learn a little more about how to fast or we see each other try something new ... courageously.

I've learned that one person's fast is completely different to another person's; and I shouldn't expect what happens to one person to happen to me. After all, God works with us each so individually. My recent fasts, for example, have been very quiet in terms of hearing God. I've often expected some grand revelation, but it's not necessarily been like that. All I know is that it does change things. I look back at all these years of fasting now, and do believe it has strengthened many of us, enabling us to walk in victory in some quite difficult circumstances.

Spiritually, we are a powerful army when we fast like this, together. It's as if we're marching forward in ranks, side by side, not looking to the right or the left. Only forward. Only towards our God. Armored up, and focused. And while it's tough as anything, it's a pleasure to do this with you, to be part of these ranks, and to know that on all sides not only do I have the mighty hosts of Heaven, I also have my fellow soldiers in this community.

So as we march towards the finish line (yay!!) I wonder if we can do two things today just before our fast closes? I'll be doing this an hour or so before the end, and then will ease into eating gradually.

First, take communion. Before our fast Lynn shared a recipe for unleavened bread. Or, take a regular cracker, juice or wine, and then sit in the quiet and read one of the passages in the Gospels where Jesus talked about the Lord's supper. Those can be found in Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, and Luke 22:17-20. Or you could read some of John chapters 14-17. Marinate a little and thank him for the week.

And second, would you take some time to pray for the whole SUM community? That is, the SUMites, their homes, their spouses, and their children? What a lovely thing that would be for so many of us to be lifting up our voices in prayer for these homes. It'll be not unlike our recent day of worship, where our prayers will reach Heaven hour by hour, seeing as we are spread across so many time zones.

Thanks everyone, it's been a meaningful week as always. Next week I'm on holiday with my family in the South Island of New Zealand (a place called Queenstown) so the blog will be quiet. But we'll all be back again the week after.

And now it's your turn: Tell us about your fast, how has it gone? Did you experience anything spiritually? I can't wait to read the comments.

Love to you all,

Ann


A Love Letter - Prayer & Fasting 2022

SUM Fast 2022Lynn Donovan here:

Many of you don't know Rosheed Lee. She was a writer for SUM a number of years ago. It was Rosheeda who actually initiated our family fast here on the web. Ro, was tragically killed in a car crash on her way to a conference where I (Lynn) and Dineen were speaking. Ro, went home to our Father that day. Truly, she was too good for this world. In her short years on earth 22 or 23, she greatly impacted many. 

I was one of them. 

So today, I'm sharing a nostalgic post that is POWERFUL from author, Rosheeda Lee.

Rosheeda Lee:

Today’s Activity: Write a love letter to God.

Today’s Focus: Let your heart speak. Spend your time in personal reflection and prayer.

Are you a friend of God?

Is He a friend of yours?

I know this is supposed to be about a love letter. And it is. No worries. But let’s not put the cart before the horse.

Before you can successfully enjoy the intimacy of being in love, you first have to learn to trust one another as friends.

One of the greatest lessons of 2010 for me was the value of friendship and the power that it has to help sustain love. Only a few know the real deal of this past year for me, but those who do have heard me say in very recent history that one of the greatest blessings to come of all that went terribly awry between me and Sweetheart is that through all the rubble, God uncovered a friendship we’ve never known. Being broken forced us to connect in a way that we had not managed in our entire history and today I can say that he is my best friend forever and that I am falling in love with him in a way that I doubted I’d ever know.

It’s the same with God. I couldn’t properly fall in love with Him until I was broken enough to go to Him with the truth of my heart laid bare and open for His full perusal and address. It was totally not easy. But it was the beginning of the most vibrant, most vital friendship I’ve ever known. As I learned to trust Him with my truth, He was able to woo me and lead me into deep intimacy and fellowship with Him.

He wants to do the same for you.

Friends being bff’s with God is something phenomenal, but if you think that’s amazing then you’ve just GOT to experience Him as the Lover of your soul. Let your love letter be truth – not pretention. Give Him all that you are and let Him take you deeper. Trust Him. Because He won’t abandon you, no matter how bad it gets or how much is aches. He will not let you go.

Today is the first day of the greatest love affair of your life.

Make it a great one. Ro


Play with the Father -- Fasting, Day Three

Hello my fellow fasting squad! Fast and pray 2022

How are you doing? I am thinking of you all as I potter around the house.

As I write, it's day three here. So far I've had no food for the past three days. I'm pretty woolly-headed, on 'go-slow' mode. And, it's just been a gentle time with God so far. 

Yesterday I wrote about the wilderness. Well, today I want to look at something that can be experienced within our wilderness: The playful love of the Father. And I want to tell you a lovely story from last year's fast.

One morning in July 2019 I woke with a four-digit code in my head. I grabbed my phone and wrote it down. 

A year later, July 2020, I woke with a picture in my head of a wicker basket, the size and shape of a Glory Box or trunk. Again, I wrote it down.

We then came to our community fast, January 2021. The week before, I was walking with oldest son, Travis, and I said, "You know, one thing I've always wanted is a one-person teapot, I really want one of those.." at which he laughed.

The fast rolled around and on day two I was out with my boys. We came home, and there waiting for us was a big box by the front door. It was a gift from several family members in England who had clubbed together to send us something really special. It had been due to arrive before Christmas, but was late; hence its arrival on this first week of January, and my fasting week -- Perfect timing.

The boys and I carted the box into the living room and excitement hit. Forgetting my hunger completely, I started ripping open the box, with straw flying. I cried, "No no no, I get to open it!" as the boys' hands were competing with mine to get a first look. We eventually pulled apart the cardboard to discover a glorious wicker basket, the size and shape of a glory box, a trunk! 

"Ohhh, it's the wicker basket I saw," I thought to myself.

This basket was a very big food hamper from a specialty food store in London. I love food. Not only that, the last four digits of the courier code for its delivery were the same four digits I'd woken up with back in July 2019! I knew that because I'd received a text about the package already. Those four digits had remained meaningful to me and that text had given me an inkling God was in this.

That's not all, though. I then got to open the wicker trunk, and lo and behold the first item I pulled out was ........ A one-person teapot!!

Well, by this time I had truly forgotten wilderness hunger.

The items continued to come as we dived into the trunk with our hands. There in the Glory Box were tin and cardboard packages, all containing food-related goodies. It was exquisite stuff and I was in heaven. But the final moment came when I laid out all the pieces on our piano and realized the packaging was all co-ordinated in the same colors of my special journals in which I write words from God: Fuschia pink and duck-egg blue.

"The boxes are the same color as my journals!!!!" I shouted. I was beside myself. What a gift. 

The boys were so amused they grabbed a phone, took a photo, and then roared with laughter when they took a look ... It's a funny photo, and I hope it gives you a giggle. Yep, I was excited. Ann joy

That day the Father played with me and loved me. Perhaps he was even saying "You gave up food for me. Now see my heart for you."

Oh friends, today I've been reflecting on how tremendous God is. And with that in mind I want to end with an idea. I did this today myself:

Take a moment to quietly sit with the Father along with a paper and pen, and dream with him. Write a list of your dreams for your life, sitting consciously in his presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you write this list. And include your family and home in those dreams -- Well, I know you will as that is top of our minds. Keep the list somewhere special for years to come.

That's all for today. What's happened so far in your fast, and how has your day been?

Ann


While in the Wilderness - Fasting Day Two

How did day one of the Fast go for you? If you didn't manage it yesterday don't beat yourself up -- It's perfectly normal to have a few hiccups in this big exercise called fasting. Just dust yourself off, get back on the horse, and start afresh. Fast and pray 2022

Over here, so far so good. I've not eaten since Monday morning. It does make me feel unwell, though, and that's even with coffee and juices. I can't believe that Jesus did this without those kinds of aids in blazing desert heat for forty days (Matthew 4:1-4).

On that note, I feel like looking at a well-known fasting passage today:

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Weakened, Jesus goes through more temptations from the devil in his fasting state until finally:

"The devil left him, and angels came and attended him" (v.11).

I'm reflecting today on the fact that a believer who has work to do for the Lord will be allowed to endure a wilderness season like the above.  A season, that is, where they are weakened, fragile, tempted, and embattled. Sound familiar?

A wilderness season (which may last years) lifts us from being a baby Christian to a viable, ministering-to-others, working-for-the-Lord kind of Christian. 

I wonder why Jesus fasted while also being in the wilderness and being tempted. It seemed the two came as a package: Fasting forty days, and also being tempted in a miserable wilderness. Further, he was on his own; well, without human companionship. But that whole package (fasting, temptation) lifted Jesus into a maturity that meant he could walk into the next thing God had for him: His ministry.

It's also noticeable that his wilderness time happened straight after he was baptized. And it was only after the wilderness that he went out, found his disciples, and performed his very first public miracle: The turning of water to wine at a wedding.

Do we all need to have a wilderness time after our initial conversion in order to truly be useful to the Lord? Perhaps so. For out of our pain comes our ministry to others.

For that reason, when I look back on my own SUM I can even dare to say that I wouldn't change it for the world. It's done things to my own character. Necessary things, I guess.

Our homes, our families, and our wilderness alone season... God will use it all. And we can pray "Lord, help us walk it through and see it through. Hold us up in it all."

How is your fast going so far? Any thoughts on the topic of wilderness seasons? Share anything you'd like to in the comments.

Ann


Day One of our Community Fast

Hello friends Fast and pray 2022

Ann here and it’s Monday, day one of our fast. I am so looking forward to seeing what God will do among us this week. There is always something exciting that happens.

Now, I woke this morning raring to go. However, I was nervous too. I’m going without food all week, and that's a feat for sure. But we're in it together and I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

This morning I began by sitting in my quiet prayer room. The family were still asleep, and so I opened a blank page in my journal, pen in hand, and said to God, “Our week of fasting is now here. Lord, what do I hope for this week? What shall I be praying for? And, what do I want to fast for with you?” I managed to have a couple of hours of quiet with God. It was beautiful and peaceful.

I jotted down some thoughts in those two hours. One of my main prayers, currently, is for the SUM community’s homes, and for ongoing wisdom personally.

And so, the theme of this week’s fast is going to be prayer for our homes and families. We always do pray for this, but let's do so especially this week.

On that note, today I want to share a little tucked-away story from the Old Testament. It’s from the time of King David when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem. There was a decision to be made about where the Ark of the Covenant would reside, and David was seriously scared about the sheer power of the Ark. His fear had come because someone had died from touching it (2 Samuel 6:6). In the end, someone else -- A man called Obed-Edom -- took the Ark on behalf of the nation, and safely cared for it in a respectful way.

The part that interested me was this:

“The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household.” 2 Samuel 6:11 (NKJV)

My friends, our own care of the Holy presence of God in our homes is not unlike Obed-Edom's care of the Ark of the Covenant, above. And what happened to him was that blessing followed. What an honor it is to welcome God's presence into our homes. What's more, may we approach that task like Obed-Edom did, with reverence, care and due stewardship. This fasting is part of that: It is our way of showing care, love, and reverence to God. 

Indeed, when we welcome the Holy presence of the Lord into our homes, with due respect, awe, and a deep love for Him, I do believe the Lord will bless us and all our household; and this is what we as SUMites are doing. We are the caretakers of faith in our homes.

So today, my friends, perhaps we can pray this prayer:

Lord God, we welcome you into every part of our home and lives.

Lord we welcome your presence into our homes. What an honor that we know you. What an absolute honor!

Help us to be trustworthy, help us to steward the faith you have given us, and help us to safe-keep the faith seed of our families as it sits growing within our homes.

We love you, Lord, with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength, and we pray in Your Name, our beloved Jesus. Amen.

How are you fasting this week, and what are you hoping for? Let's share in the comments.

All the best with your first day!

Ann


Community Fast & Pray January 3-7

SUM Fast 2022Fast 2022

As far back as I can remember the SUMite Nation has fasted together the first full week of January. Well, at least for more than a decade now. That's amazing!

I’m convinced that any type of fast we offer the Lord, opens up the prayer line to our Father. However, a genuine food fast, in the manner that Jesus speaks, is truly life-changing.

Today, set your mind to fast with all of us.

The fast begins Monday, January 3rd at sunup. Fasting concluded on Friday, January 7th at sundown. If at all possible, fast solid foods through the entire week. End the week with the Lord’s Supper (Recipe below).

Or offer a daily fast from solid foods from sunup to sundown, taking the Lord’s Supper at the end of the day (recipe below).

Or fast sunup and then a small meal at night with the family. And finally, I urge you, fast time away from your phone and devices. Avoid television if you can and put your phone down. Don’t take your phone into your quiet time (this is a reminder to myself, ack!!!).

Fasting is a humbling process. It’s not arm twisting the Lord. But when we are humbled, our prayers become the loudest. Humility and honor are the keys to an audience with the King.

In addition to fasting. Get a large candle. Light it each morning and leave it in a room where you will see the flame flickering often. Each time you see the flame, pray.

Prayer prompts:

Jesus, what is your favorite thing about me?

Jesus, what word are you speaking over my life in this season?

Jesus, how can I pray with more effectiveness for my family? Home, Church, City, Nation?

Jesus, what areas exist in my life that give our enemy legal rights to oppress me? My children? My Spouse? Nation?

Jesus, how to I gain freedom in these areas?

Okay, finally, in the comments, I want you to state to the enemy: I AM PRAYING AND FASTING.

Here is the recipe. Thank you for my great friend, Jeanne Ritari! Jean, you ROCK! I’ve made this bread and it truly will bring you closer to the reality of communion and the love of Jesus.

Unlevened Bread 1Unleavened Bread

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • Pinch of salt

Oven 400 F/ 200 C

Warm the milk and dissolve the honey in it.  In a medium bowl, stir the flour into the milk and add a pinch of salt.  Combine well and knead very briefly (only enough to incorporate the flour.)

Divide dough into 6 or 8 equal parts.  Form each part into a ball and pat or roll into a rough circle.  Divide into four or six triangles using a knife or pizza cutter.  Place on a baking sheet (I use parchment paper to avoid sticking.)  Repeat with all the balls of dough (you may need more than one baking sheet.)  Prick all the discs several times with a fork.

Place the baking sheet in a hot oven for 15 minutes.  Remove and let cool.  Store in refrigerator (it keeps for several days), or wrap unused portion well and freeze until needed. 

Unlevened Bread 2


Fasting: How Can We Prepare?

Hi everyone! Fast and pray 2022

Well, our annual community fast begins this Monday and I thought we could chat about how we prepare.

I wonder if you're like me in that every time we do this fast I look forward to it -- Some amazing things have happened in past fasts. But I also feel thoroughly nervous. Going without food is no small thing. For me it's as hard as, say, scuba diving would be, or climbing a very difficult mountain. 

For that reason I find I have to prepare mentally for it as much as physically. So, how do we do that?

First of all, we can be praying for ourselves ahead of this week. It's better to pray when we are feeling fine than when we are hungry and challenged. Quite simply, then:

Lord, help me do this fast. Strengthen me when I'm tempted to break the fast this week. Give me stamina. And please let it be a special week for us all.

Second, we can prepare practically by getting plenty of liquids into the house. For example, on Sunday I'm going to go down to my local foodie shop to buy in some things like protein shakes, bone broth, and juice. I'm also going to buy in some ready-made meals for my family so that I don't have to cook quite so much this coming week.

Third, in spiritual terms, we might want to make a list of things we want to talk to God about over this fast, or things we want to fast about. That said, I'll probably do that on Monday morning once the big week is here.

And finally, consider whether to tell your spouse. It is a good idea to tell them, but it's not always easy to do and it does take some courage as the practice of fasting might seem weird to them. For me it took a couple of years before I told Bryce but eventually I did and I'm glad he knows.

So, those are just a few thoughts. All the best over the weekend as you plan for this, and we'll see you again here on the eve of the fast to kick things off.

Much love to you all

Ann


STOP Praying Powerless Prayers For Your Unsaved Spouse

Hi SUM Nation,

Equipped Chris BrooksLynn Donovan here. STOP praying powerless prayers for your unsaved spouse. Do you need encouragement. Practical help to THRIVE in your unequally yoked marriage? 

Listen in today, as I'm on the radio Broadcast, Equipped, with Chris Brooks. Dec 27th Noon to 1 PM CT. Here is the link: Equipped, with Chris Brooks, Guest: Lynn Donovan.

 


There Once Was A Man Who Didn't Believe

There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

Snow_church One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.

"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

The geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.Geese winter

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn - and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!"

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese - blind, lost, and perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized!

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:

Mangercross "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"

~Author Unknown