41 posts categorized "Prophetic"

A Wave is Coming

Hello friends, Ann here!Record

I hope these recent words from the archives have been refreshing your souls. Don’t we need it right now! After a year of sitting through this pandemic, we certainly can do with a little spark of fresh stuff.

So, let's roll up our sleeves and carry on a little longer with these promises from God.

If you haven’t already, you might like to read the comments that three of our long-time SUMites wrote underneath my last post. I so loved hearing their gems of insight on the Harvest that we’ve been talking about.

Now, here's the next word:

We've been looking at how in mid 2013 the Lord spoke to us about ‘The Coming Harvest’ in several ways. This included the vision described in the last post. But after all those words about the harvest, there is now one more word that the Lord gave Dineen, and it's a mighty word for our community. You can read more about it here. The core word is this:

A great wave is coming.

Many souls to be claimed and collected.

Watch and see.

My heart is always for the many.

A great wave. A wave of the Holy Spirit, power and authority, perhaps. A wave of shaking as well. A wave. A wave crashing into our world.

Wave

That word about the wave was written by Dineen in 2013. So, are we seeing that wave now, with COVID? We can get on our knees and ask God about that. My understanding is that COVID is the first step. I've heard God say that COVID is a 'micro-wave' that is paving the way for the walls of Jericho to fall. The most important part is the wave of salvation power to follow, where things will change for unbelievers. And that is the part we must engage the most with.

Yep! The main -- most important -- part is the good stuff God is bringing next. Salvation to souls.

With that in mind, you might like to consider this next story:

Last week here in New Zealand we had a tsunami warning. I know several of you saw it on the news and you reached out and asked if we were all ok -- That was so nice, and thank you, I'm pleased to say we're all fine here. What may not have been evident to those overseas was the rarity of this tsunami warning: It was an unprecedented event in our nation.

What happened was we had three earthquakes in the ocean at about 2am, 6am, and 8am. The first and third were linked but the second was not, so scientists were scratching their heads, puzzled. I always think when scientists are puzzled there's something interesting going on. The newspaper headlines described it as a ‘Rare and noteable event’.

Much of the country went onto a tsunami alert, whole towns were evacuated and the whole coastline of New Zealand’s north island was under threat. Some parts severely, some less so, but every part was under some kind of 'alert'. All TV programmes were cancelled to make way for the ongoing civil defence updates. There were lines of traffic, crowds of people waiting on hills, and an alarm that went out on our phones from civil defence that sounded like something out of wartime. It was actually highly dramatic! So, all in all, a loud and clear ‘Tsunami Warning’.

Now, God speaks through signs and symbols throughout the Bible. And so, my very first reaction to this tsunami warning was: 'God is saying something through this.' And I believe that 'something' is that a wave of revival is coming. 

What do we do with this? The word above tells us: Watch. And See.

Pray. Be alert. See what happens next. And, in the meantime, reflect on the part what God says: My Heart is for the many.

My friends, as always I would love to hear your thoughts if anything particular springs to mind. For now, I just want to say 'Be encouraged!'

With love,

Ann


Jesus, I can't see past my SUM!

Happy Friday, friends -- Ann here!Record

Today, I’d like to share a vision that the Lord gave our community a few years ago. It was Dineen who received it, and she shared it on the blog -- The original article is here.

I hope when you read the vision below it will encourage you! Here’s the description of what the Lord showed Dineen (in her words):

“I was half awake, half asleep (it's possible it was a vision...I honestly don't know). I stood before a tall crop—corn I believe. Jesus stood next to me.

He gestured to the crop and said, "This is the Great Harvest."

I said, "Lord, I can't see past this, can you show me more?"

Suddenly I was up higher and could see tall mountains in the far distance. The crop spanned all the way to the mountains!” 

It’s a short vision, but sometimes God speaks volumes through few words. If we take the view that Dineen represents us – the SUMites – standing and looking at this, the following are some thoughts on this encouraging picture from the Lord: Corn

We know from scripture that Jesus spoke symbolically in his parables. So here we can look at the different symbols and think about what they mean:

The tall corn in our immediate view.

The fact Jesus is next to us.

The words that Jesus says: "This is the great harvest".

The fact we say: "I can’t see past this!" And then the fact that he takes us to a higher perspective and shows us what's actually beyond.

Phew!! It's a rich picture.

What do the tall mountains in the distance represent, I wonder? I’m still mulling that over, as mountains can represent a number of things in scripture. That one I will be praying about, for I know that every symbol in a vision is relevant but sometimes we don't understand instantly. Perhaps you have an instant sense of what those mountains represent? If so, do share!

What I really believe Jesus is showing us in this vision is that this harvest -- What we’re stepping into next -- is huge!

And, there's usually some kind of call to respond that's included in a word (vision) like this. In this case, I believe what Jesus might be asking us to do is listen to these words of his: 'This is the great harvest', start to allow him to take our perspective higher, and be willing to look beyond the immediate issues of our family's salvation.

It is difficult to do that -- To see past the immediate crop of our spouse and family. But there is more beyond our SUM. And our time of labor is only the beginning.

This very week, in fact, God said this to me: "You are stepping out of this season." By that, I understood that I am going to be stepping out of this time where there's been a faith difference with my husband. This is something I have known for quite some time: That the SUM season is one stage in my faith life that opens up into something quite different. I don't know the timing (I know God is leisurely about such things!) but I receive it. Given Dineen's vision, I can't help but believe this is a wider word for our community.

I'll leave it there. What do you think of this? Do any initial thoughts come to mind from reading this vision? I hope it blessed you.

Have a lovely weekend, and we'll be back on Monday.

Ann


The Harvest Ahead

Dear friends, Ann here.Record

I mentioned on Monday that I would share some words from our archives that God gave our community.

These words are promises that we're dusting off now because they feel relevant for today. For the past months I've been hearing God that after this pandemic many of us are going to see more outward victory from the seeds we've sown. That's exciting to me. Does it mean salvations? Oh I hope so!

How are you feeling right now about this, I wonder? We reach a point where we settle in and become used to it 'not happening'. But we can now sit up and get a little more ready: We're watching something very unusual happen in our world, and things are moving. 

While we wait, one thing we must do is refresh our vision. And we can do this by reviewing some of the important things that God has said to us. In that spirit, then, I'm going to share a word below that God gave Lynn in April 2013.

Before I go on, that week was a significant week; but in a sad and startling way. One of our beloved writers and ministry partners died in a car crash on the way to a conference we were holding. Her name was Rosheeda Lee and I know some here will remember that. The SUM community celebrated Rosheeda being in Heaven with Jesus, but it also felt tragic. Especially for her parents.

I discovered something strange about that, however, last week. It was only days after Rosheeda went home that I (a future writer) heard God's voice in my living room for the first time. Shortly after, I was born again. Her seed fell to the ground that week but God wants us to know he is with our ministry.

Now we have Rosheeda in the cloud of witnesses helping us run this race (Hebrews 12:1). It is noteworthy that it was she who coined our name: SUMites, and so now she stands for us in Heaven. Beloved Rosheeda.

That week was important. And here is what the Lord now says as we continue to run this extreme and challenging SUM race:

SUMites, you are in training to be harvesters!

For here is what Lynn wrote that significant week (April 2013), and it is certainly worth us mulling over these words:

“In the last week I’ve talked to God a lot about our community and I keep hearing this passage that Jesus spoke in Luke. Harvest

He (Jesus) told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Luke 10:2 NIV

I’m convinced that this family at SUM is in training to be Harvesters. My friends, think about it. I’m convinced by the Spirit that this time period and this generation sits on the precipice of one of the greatest revivals the world has ever experienced. We have been chosen to take what we have gained through our community here to the communities, the individuals, the broken and bleeding souls around us, we are to take the Good News!!!

You may read this right now and begin nodding your head because you know this is true. You may read this and think, “Lynn, you’re crazy.” But I want you to know that if you are part of this community, you are being called to be a harvester. Especially if you feel ill-equipped when you read this. I always feel ill-equipped. It’s us ordinary people that bring great glory to God when we move in His love and power to accomplish His purposes. So, as we move forward in this series, I want you to pray about how God is already using you as a harvester and ask Him about what more He has for you in the days ahead.”

***

So, that was Lynn, and what a wonderful word. Can I suggest a little exercise for us? That we sit with God over this coming weekend and ask Him those two questions:

Lord, how are you already using me as a harvester?

What do you have for me in the days ahead?

Sometimes God takes a while to answer, but if you do sense an answer about this would you share in the comments below? I would love to hear it.

I'll pause there and continue next time. But what an adventure we are on, and a joy to be in this together! 

Ann


God's Promises from the SUM Archives

Ann here! Record

Dear SUMites, do you remember last year I said I would pull out some of the words that God has spoken to our community over the years? In particular I’ve been interested in key promises we have received from the Lord -- Corporate promises for us that we can look at together.

Here's the first post I wrote on that last year: God's promises for the SUMites, part one.

This ‘collating of God’s words to the SUMites’ has been a project of mine for some time now. I have been reading through the archives in date order, starting from May 2006, with the hope of sharing important words on here every now and then. It's a refreshing and remembering of what God is wanting us to know, I guess.

So this brings me to the next series. Starting on Friday I’m going to spend a few posts sharing some words from the archives on a key theme: What God has promised us and what he wants us to know. For this series I’m using the above picture of an old record, as these words are records of things God has spoken.

When we see that picture of the record player, I love the idea of us thinking, “For the record, God has said…”

To go back for a moment down memory lane, we know that in 2012 Lynn and Dineen (our then-leaders) both had a transformative experience with the Holy Spirit and after that they began to receive the occasional vision, dream, or message for our community. This was all part of God lifting us into a Kingdom lifestyle where we bravely welcomed in more of the Holy Spirit’s activity.

Prophetic words are part of that Kingdom lifestyle. By definition, a prophetic word is simply an inspired word from the Holy Spirit. It can come in a dream or a vision, or the still small voice, and we can learn to receive these things from the Lord by asking him to speak to us. Anyway, Lynn and Dineen both began to receive the occasional word for this community, and they would bravely write it up into a post saying “This is what God seems to be saying to us right now.” (I say brave because it is a responsibility and they would have thought carefully about it.)

Many of us have been readers here a long time. And we might even remember these words. They are part of the love story God has for us, and enable us to charge forth in hope. 

The hard part is that sometimes promises are given to us a long, long, LONG time before they happen! Psalm 105 talks about that: Joseph was given a promise but then ended up in prison for years. God's perspective on this? The word of the Lord tested him.

“He had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
His feet were hurt with fetters;
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the LORD tested him.”

(Psalm 105:17-19, ESV)

So, dear friends, if you -- like me -- read promises from God on here several years ago but they haven't happened yet there's nothing wrong with that. It's just, those words have tested us. It's as if God says to us: “Will you persevere?”

Now to these upcoming posts: I’m going to share a series of words that the Lord gave to Lynn and Dineen in 2013. They wrote five posts about a particular set of promises from the Lord: Promises about where we are heading as a community, and what we are all about.

Are you ready to receive them again? I hope so. It will be exciting.

In the meantime, perhaps a question we can discuss in the comments is this: Do you have promises from God that you are holding onto tenaciously in your SUM? 

Looking forward to chatting more about this one!

Ann


Church, We Are Crossing Over!

Dear friends, Ann here! Crossing the Jordan

I had a different post planned today, but that can wait until next week. Instead, I thought I'd share a few impromptu thoughts given the present events. We're watching wide-eyed as the US election plays out, and then across the Atlantic many Europeans are entering their second lockdown. It's all pretty intense.

However, many believers - friends of God -- across the world will be sitting in their living rooms asking, “What does this mean, Lord? What do you want us to know?”

Sitting … waiting … watching … seeking Him. 

"I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected."

(Habakkuk 2:1, NKJV)

We hear in part, and we put the pieces together as a body. So, in that spirit I thought I might share what I've been hearing from God these past few months. And when I say 'hearing', I can say He has spoken this particular thing to me quite a few times this past year (even before COVID began), and quite clearly. The hard part is believing it (because it feels abstract) and knowing what to do with it. It's along these lines:

The Church is crossing over to a new era like the Israelites crossed the Jordan. 

This crossing over involves moving from one era to another. From one way of being, to another. From old routines, old ways of doing church, and old mindsets to a brand new 'thing'.

Specifically, the Lord has led me repeatedly to the story of Joshua and the Israelites who crossed the Jordan river collectively. They crossed over from the wilderness to the promised land (Joshua 1:1-3:17) and this involved them completely leaving their old place. Even though it was the dysfunctional wilderness, it was what they knew so there was comfort there. The wilderness had a certain set of routines: They ate manna, for example, and they were led by Moses. In the new land, the manna stopped and Moses died just before they crossed. Their main focus was now to follow the 'new' -- Joshua -- into new battles. The whole package was completely different. And the process of crossing over took months, the river being only a small part of it.

The good part was that once they had crossed over, they experienced victory - Well, as long as they were obedient and listened to God's voice.

I believe what God is saying is that we are moving, and we need to be prepared for the same magnitude of change as the Israelites had, unbelievable as that might sound. When we emerge from this pandemic, things will be different in our faith lives and perhaps in the Church. I have no idea how, but I do believe God is asking us to prepare our hearts for that. He is asking us to be open-hearted to change, be prepared to embrace something new, be prepared to be obedient, and hold on tight to him.

Right now, the year 2020 is an experience that feels something like walking through the riverbed of the Jordan. It's hard to be straddling this in-between place, this 'no-man's land'. But in that story of the crossing over, the Ark of the Covenant went ahead to show God's people where to put their footing, for they had not been that way before (Joshua 3:3-4). In the same way, God will be leading us through this. We just need to keep talking to him -- And listening.

Here is the key scripture God has been giving me for this time, and I love it. It fills me with hope!

"But the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year."

(Deuteronomy 11:11-12, NKJV)

SUM family, let's be strong and of good courage, for God is doing something new in our midst. Hold on tight, he has us buckled in and safe!

In the meantime, how are you doing? I'd love to hear, even if you are finding it tough. Let's pull together as a community.

Love to you all,

Ann


Taking Off the Badge

Hi friends, Ann here!Record

We’re currently looking at past words that God has spoken to our community. To catch up, here are the recent posts:

Part one - 'Museum of SUM'

Part two - 'God is Calling our Spouses'

Now, this next word I’m going to share is one where the Lord gave us an adjustment. In it he was encouraging us to adjust a particular aspect of our walk. It’s shared with warm humor by Lynn but when I read it I did nod and say all over again, 'Yes, Lord.' 

It happened at the conference that Lynn and Dineen attended on 12 October 2012. Lynn tells the story, which I’ve copied below. It's a longer one, so perhaps make a drink and settle in ... Then we can chat in the comments.

**

Lynn's Story, 2 November 2012

"Sometimes are you overcome and overwhelmed with the sheer love and patience God bestows upon you? 

Ya? 

Glad it’s not just me. 

His relentless persistence to get through to my heart and more, my thick-head, is astounding. In the weeks since the conference, I feel like I’m reading scripture for the first time. I’m in love with the book of Luke right now and can’t get enough. I’m reading that book like it was personally written for me. Scripture verses have new meaning, depth and POWER in my life. 

I’m not sure how long this post will be but I’m writing until the entire story is out. Because it is HIS-story and all for His glory. 

I think I mentioned in the post about Maria that God was intentionally selective about the conferees that He placed around us during the three day event. Our God did not waste one minute of the conference. He sent Helen to us at lunch and Maria next to me in the audience and Laura prayed with us in the bathroom. That story still makes me chuckle (a tale for another day, I promise). 

But God also used Heidi, Dineen and me as we spoke truth and love into each other’s lives. A bond of love formed between the three of us that is impenetrable, powerful, perfect and sealed in eternal love. I hope all of you experience this kind of Kingdom friendship and love. 

Onward. It was the last day of the conference and all throughout the day, through people like Laura, Darlene, and Helen God was trying to talk to Dineen and I. He wanted to speak about something Dineen and I wear. You see we kinda promote this badge on our chest. I’m still struggling to figure out how it comes to rest on my chest and why. But the badge we wear says this: 

I’m unequally yoked. 

Truly we have moved past wearing this badge as martyrs. It’s just easy to say, “I’m unequally yoked” because in Christian circles people always reply to our declaration with a serious nod of understanding accompanied by eyes full of concern or pity and they utter one word, “Oh.” As if to say, I see, I get it, poor you. 

Sheesh, just writing that makes my stomach turn. Onward. 

Well after three days of proudly wearing our invisible but very discernible badges around the place and after God sending people to us to speak gently about our malady of unequalness, God was sick of us. So He sent in Heidi. 

We were walking along the road to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Now I don’t recall the conversation specifics at the moment. I think we were talking about Laura and the words she prayed over us in the women’s restroom. And Heidi with trepidation in her voice says, “Did you hear what she was saying to you?” 

“Ya, I thought I did.” 

Heidi looked at me and Dineen with uncertainty in her eyes and then she ventured, “I really don’t know how to say this and I’m not saying this to be hurtful or anything but I don’t think you are hearing what God is saying to you.” 

I froze in my tracks on the side of the road with cars passing by. I stared at Heidi and Dineen was standing right there frozen as well. “I just hear God telling me to tell you this. ‘Your marriages are not mismatched or unequally yoked. Your marriages are mine. Your husbands are mine.’” 

Gulp! 

Instantly I felt chastised by our most loving and Holy God. 

Heidi rushed on, “Please don’t be mad but I hear God telling me to say to you, ‘They are mine.” 

That instant my heart broke wide open. I felt ashamed that I had not believed God about this and even more shame that for so, so long I’ve worn this stupid “spiritually mismatched” badge about my person. 

She said, “Your words have created a prison where you have held your husband in a cell.”

Pain. O, the pain. 

However the pain and shame instantly left me as I said to Heidi, “Oh Heidi, you are right. God is so right.” 

It was at the moment that I opened the doors of the prison. I tore off the badge and I surrendered it to God. I remember saying to Heidi and Dineen, “This changes everything. Even our ministry. Perhaps we are to even change our ministry name?” A million thoughts rushed into my head. And those thoughts Dineen and I are still wrangling with today. 

Out of this entire exchange what has remained profound and clear to me are three words that the Father spoke to me and Dineen, “They are mine.” 

My friends, deep calls to deep. Step into this deep with me and see if you can uncover the truth of those three words in your life. What are the implications? Why it is God would say this to Dineen and I, “They (our husbands) are mine.” 

Now I have to also be clear in this. Heidi spoke these words as they were placed upon her through the Holy Spirit and they were intended for Dineen and I. However, I also believe they are intended for our community. But there is a progression or a spiritual shift that happens within us that allows God to speak these words to those of us who live with an unsaved spouse. And it’s this development, this shift that changes everything. And I’m desperate to share this with you so that you don’t have to be hit upside the head from a close friend on the side of the road."

**

Well, that’s the story! We'll build on it in a future post, but in the meantime I'd love to hear your thoughts. See you in the comments.

Ann


The Museum of SUM

Hi SUMites, Ann here! Museum

Lately, I've been thinking about how much this blog is a museum full of interesting stories. I wonder if any of you find it so? And, within it there are places where God has answered some of those questions we talked about in our last post. That's what I wanted to share today. Hope you can follow me as we take a little walk through the SUM community's story.

Most of us will know this ministry was started by Lynn as just a little blog. Her time of being spiritually mismatched had only just become easier when God nudged her to start writing publicly about this sensitive topic. This was a huge ask: Would her husband mind? Miraculously, Mike said yes, and fourteen years later here we are. Mike's baptism last year brought us full circle. It is truly one of my favorite stories ever.

This blog, for me, is a treasure trove of God stories. It's a living, breathing parable. A record of God's faithfulness. A story of a little one becoming a thousand (Isaiah 60:22). And, a story of a nation that God loves deeply: The SUM nation.

Last year, I decided to read through the SUM nation's story from the very beginning, starting with Lynn’s maiden post on 1 May 2006. With the spiritual equivalent of museum-curator gloves, I read carefully, post by post, turning the events over. It was as if certain threads were like specific exhibits. Hindsight adds extra insight to some of these threads.

I noticed quite a few things. One part I love is that when Dineen joined soon after the blog started, she instantly brought a strong message about Jericho. She wrote about that a lot. It was as if the Marching Around Jericho book and testimony was foreshadowed in some of her posts. God had a story here that he was writing, and we were all along for the ride. 

As I scrolled through, I was keen to read any words from the Holy Spirit that had featured in past posts. By that, I mean directly spoken words or visions that God had given to the leaders for this community. But as I read, from 2006 onwards I could not find much. In 2012 that changed. It was only after October 2012, a personal turning point where Lynn and Dineen each had a deep encounter with the Lord, that they began to receive clearer promises from the Holy Spirit for this community. They would pen these words, turning them into posts. As a reader at that time I recall how strengthening those posts were.

Hearing God speak, and then conveying his words to others, is a huge learning curve. Looking at this blog I can see that God used many ways to teach us to hear his voice. He would usually speak in the still, small whisper, a barely-there conviction; but sometimes he would give Dineen a dream, vision, or a picture; or Lynn would hear a phrase drop into her spirit. It was exciting. They grew in hearing God's voice, and so did we.

Paul said we should use these kinds of words as part of our spiritual battle:

"This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare" (1 Timothy 1:18, NKJV)

These words, then -- words from the Holy Spirit -- are powerful tools. They might include promises and/or direction and strategy, and they can completely change our outlook. Importantly, they can also answer some of those questions we have.

So with this in mind, I’m going to dig out some of these prophetic words that are sitting in our archives, some from as early as 2012. They are words of wisdom and/or prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:8-9), and their purpose is to edify, exhort and comfort us (1 Corinthians 14:3). I would describe them as gifts to help us. So, I'd like to dust them off and take a look at them again. Would you be keen? I’ll start with a couple next week, and then will revisit others here and there over the months as time permits.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your story: How long have you been reading this blog, and what has been your most memorable post, topic, or series of posts?


Locked-Down Life: It's Renovation Time

Dear friends, Ann here! Door SUM logo

Today, as we enter our umpteenth week of staying home I thought I would share a personal story. I think I got an inkling last year about this whole Coronavirus thing, but didn't understand it. I know a couple of others who had the same thing happen. See what you think of this:

It all began when my kitchen got ripped out last October. This old kitchen was in a shocking state. Bryce and I had allowed it to go too far. However, we finally got ourselves moving, made our plans, and the day came. Builders arrived and within hours the kitchen was gone. Left in its place was a cold, dusty hole. That same day, Bryce had to leave on a week-long work trip.

“I’ll be fine without the kitchen!” I thought. After all, how hard could it be?

Day one progressed with no sink, dishwasher, or oven. Within hours this was no fun. By day two, I’m sorry to say I was unhinged. The continual rounds of washing-up water I was lugging from the bathtub did it. I'm sure many of you have been there. It is surprisingly difficult to live without a kitchen.

“I’m sorry boys,” I would say to my two kids as I tucked them in, day after day, a less-than-perfect mother. “It’s the kitchen, it's making me feel so unhinged!!”

I kept trying to remember that compared to women in centuries past I was fortunate to have running water. This should have helped, but it didn't. I really was not prepared, then, to hear the following whisper from God:

“Ann, in the near future your home is going to be spiritually renovated and you're going to feel like this for a while. Be prepared.”

Gah! Really? My reaction was "Whatever You say Lord, I'll accept it!" But my mind began to wonder and I began to ask Him more. What did it mean? A couple of days later, this came to me:

“This coming change is about people being fed.

There are many, many people to be fed.

Like a new kitchen, this new thing will give you fresh ability to feed others.”

We don’t always understand what God is saying until we look back. I carried this sense of impending change for months, but I look back today and think perhaps it was about this lock-down season. Whatever it meant, this mysterious kitchen analogy gave me a sense that a new thing was occurring. And that I would feel the same as I did during that renovation -- Under some pressure. 

So here we are, friends. Under pressure. We've all had things ripped away from us, much like the kitchen. For me it’s my freedom. How about you? I’m quickly learning to let go, and I'm understanding that I need to let God work in me during this pivotal time. All the while, my eyes are on Him. I can't take them off Him.

I say that last bit because the above words weren’t the only ones I heard. I don’t think God gives us a heads-up about tough stuff without also giving a promise. So here’s what I heard next:

You’ll cope, Ann; you have people on your side, and you have all you need: Sweet words and soothing medicine.

Sweet words. Soothing medicine. God. His words are sweet like honey is sweet and they are life. As for the new thing ahead, I think of it like my new kitchen which is now in place. Earlier today, Bryce and I were pottering there and he smiled at me, "It’s worked out, this kitchen, hasn’t it?" My reply: "I love it!"

Friends, I believe there is new stuff ahead and it's something sparkly. Will it make our hearts leap with joy? Is it Revival? Will it be our family and friends turning to God? How amazing would that be! We may well be saying, "I love it, I love it!"

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

Bless you, SUM family! How are you doing, and what are you learning to ‘let go’ of at this time?


About Our Homes...The Heavenly Perspective

Hi friends, Ann here.Sparkly nest


Today I want to share something that God showed me about the homes within this community: the Spiritually Unequal Marriage community. These homes are deeply special to Him, and although they are unconventional in Christian terms, what He showed me is that they 'sit under an open heaven'.

That's a great promise; I'll take it! But what does that mean?

To give you some background, most of you will know that my boys are teens and I have struggled to bring faith to them. Not all of us struggle with that, but some do. For those of us who do, it can feel overwhelming. Overwhelming, that is, until we have one of those moments where we stop and say "Nope, God's got this!"

A couple of days ago, against this backdrop of yet again wondering about my boys' faith, God showed me a picture that illustrated my home. It was pretty cool, and it cheered me along so much that I share it now with a smile.

What I saw was a nest, and inside sat two baby birds. “Those are your two boys,” I felt God say. These two babies had their mouths wide open, waiting to be filled.

The nest didn’t look a plain brown nest. Instead it had heavenly sparkles around it, within it, and above it. I sensed these sparkles were diamonds.

Then, in contrast, I saw a different house. That house was an actual house. It had a roof, thick walls, but its walls were also made of diamonds. I sensed my house was the nest; the other house was another kind of believer’s house. This other kind was one where there was a roof, where both parents were actively bringing their children up in faith, providing safe cover together (illustrated by the roof and walls). I actually sensed God was saying that my home will look like that eventually but, for now, it's the nest version.

Each house had its own strengths; neither was better than the other. They were both beautiful. In fact, both were adorned with Heavenly jewels (the diamonds). However, they looked totally different to each other, so to compare them would be like comparing apples and oranges. 

Back to the nest -- The SUM home. This kind of home can seem roof-less, lacking protection. It might appear far too exposed to the elements. For example, media might come into our home that we hope wouldn’t, or other influences. The diamond-walled house in the other scenario with its thick roof and walls appears safer to the eye. But the truth is, our own homes have safety too: It takes the form of an open heaven above us; and a God who takes care of His wee birds (Matthew 6:26). 

An open heaven was what the prophet Isaiah cried out for in desperation:

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!” Isaiah 64:1 (NIV)

Friends, I love that image of God rending the heavens open above us and bringing His presence. Like Isaiah, we can say to God, "Oh please, rend the heavens, come down into my home, and let all the mountains I’m facing tremble before you!" 

HeavensIn our open nest, while we gaze at the stars, our beautiful babies (children, teenagers, adult children) sit under that open heaven with a protective parent -- God -- hovering above them.
The fact we’ve built our house with such care on the rock of Jesus Christ looks something like the carefully crafted nest they now sit in. It means they have a great foundation as well as an exciting Heavenly life directly above. The Spirit of God hovers and broods, like a protective bird of prey. 

Finally, in this nest picture it's worth noticing that the baby birds’ mouths were wide open. This tells me that our children – The children of this SUM Nation – will surely open their mouths and receive God’s food. Perhaps it will be God who feeds them directly, more than us parents.

So with this beautiful picture, I rest. And I hope this post helps you along in that sense of rest too. As I said earlier, God's got this.

How are those of you who are parents finding it, bringing your children up in faith? If you'd like prayer for this, post a comment and our community will pray for you.

Ann


Jericho -- Coming Soon!

Hi friends, Ann here! Coming soon  SUM

Like many of us, I’ve been watching the launch of Lynn’s new book, Marching around Jericho, with interest and am looking forward to cracking open its fresh pages.

Today, I thought I would tell you some of what I’ve seen from the side-lines. I want to attest to this book, as I've come to believe it’s a water-shed book for us, meaning it can mark a change or turning point. I believe it can change a season, and I say that because I’ve had some moments of hearing God about it. One of the things I have heard Him say is this:

A book has the power to change a season.

That's a big statement, and one I'm curious about. But there's more. Two years ago, before the book was even conceived in Lynn's mind, I think God told me about this book as if to say He is in it. It was February 2018, and I woke one morning with these words:

Coming Soon – Lynn Donovan!

These words seemed to be almost my imagination but, nevertheless, I wrote them in my journal with a date beside them. I wrote, “I think maybe this morning I heard Lynn Donovan, coming soon! Maybe?"

What did it mean, I then wondered. Her husband -- Becoming Christian? As per usual, that thought sent me bouncing up and down mentally. I have quite the imagination so I thought, hey, let's believe it. Coming soon - yes.

Well blow me down, 2019 rolled round and he did. He got baptized. But is that what these words were for? I'm sure they were in part, but as soon as Mike got baptized Lynn felt God pulling her to write a book about the seven-year journey that led to that baptism. Year by year, there would be seven sections to the book. It was as if God handed her the structure on a plate and all she had to do was pick up a pen. The book was to be called Marching around Jericho.

Watching from the sidelines, then, I knew she was starting on it. As time passed, she produced a cover design, and then eventually she put an automatic footer on her emails with a photo of said cover. I’ve pasted it here – Lynn Donovan - coming soon

As you can see, on the cover were the words Lynn Donovan, Coming Soon! So, every time I got an email from her over the last few months those big words have popped out at me -- Coming soon! It seemed to me that God had given me a heads-up about the book. Why? Perhaps so I could write this blog post.

At the end of the book Lynn describes how the walls of Jericho finally fell before her eyes. I won’t spoil it for you. From an early draft I read, it’s a good scene and the best ending. Lynn has shared a little of the timing -- dates and so on -- and by my reckoning those final events occurred exactly a year after I saw the words Lynn Donovan, Coming Soon.

So now we have this book. I can’t wait to work with it, and I want to say a huge 'well done' to Lynn on behalf of us all. Those who've followed this blog for a while have cheered her on from the sidelines and we’ll continue to do so.

Here's my prayer, then:

May this book be a blessing, and may it bring change to the lives of those who wait for their spouses to believe in Jesus.

Jericho might seem walled up so that no-one can come in or go out, but we see things differently.

Those walls are fragile and the fiery faith of a believing spouse who walks in partnership with Jesus brings power to the impossible.

Amen!

Perhaps, like me, you'd like to share a prayer or some other thoughts about the book below. We'll chat in the comments.

 


When God gives us a Promise

Hi friends, Ann here.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Elizabeth (Luke chapter 1). Blessed is she who has believedM Her story gets told each Christmas, but this year I'm noticing a curious detail: Her promise had a plot twist. Her baby had a surprise name. And it was this surprise that made her friends and neighbours marvel.

“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” (Luke 1:57-63, NIV).

Elizabeth’s promise was different to what she, or anyone, guessed: The conventional name would have been Zechariah. Instead, the name was John, and he was a wild man who wandered the desert eating locusts and honey.

So far so good.

Now for us, and our promises. I wonder how many of you are believing a promise from God? If so, I imagine it relates to your spouse or, perhaps, children getting to know Jesus? That is certainly the case for me. It might be a promise we've taken from scripture, or it may even be a promise that we've heard the Holy Spirit speak to us.

If you do have a promise you're believing, I wonder if, like me, you have preconceived ideas about what it will look like? For example, my own imagination takes me on adventures. I've imagined my husband suddenly deciding he’s super interested in God. Or, perhaps he will wake to see an angel at the bottom of his bed (I say that laughing). Or, it'll be some dramatic encounter with the Holy Spirit.

Well, I'm realizing I need to think again. God is the storyteller of our lives, and He is fabulously creative. Whatever I’ve imagined won’t be what it looks like. There’s a precedent to this: The greatly anticipated messiah came, but he did so as a baby, then a carpenter in Nazareth, then an itinerant wanderer. Was that expected?

With that in mind, now I have a story to tell: Recently, I heard God say: “Ann, be prepared for your promise to not look how you expect.” 

It was curious to me that something strange happened in my home the very same week: My oldest son, Travis, woke in the middle of the night to feel an earthquake. In the morning, he got up and looked online to see what magnitude it had been. To his surprise he discovered there was no earthquake that night. 

This might have been considered chance, but we had a similar experience when I converted. Several years ago just before my own conversion, Bryce woke in the night with the same thing. He was asleep in a hotel when an ‘earthquake’ shook him awake. He turned on the TV expecting to see a news report and there was no earthquake. Shortly after that my conversion happened and it certainly caused a shaking in our home. It knocked me to my knees, shook everything that could be shaken and left only the important things in my own heart: Faith, hope, and love. 

So, friends, watch this space -- Something could be upon my home again. Elizabeth’s name means ‘God has promised’ and like her I believe that Life is coming. I'm just quietly prepared for the unexpected.

How about you -- What promise(s) are you carrying right now? I enjoy hearing 'promise' stories, so share away in the comments.

Nice chatting,

Ann


Spiritually Mismatched: Been There, Got the Shirt

Ann here!Sumerfly

On this blog, we’ve been through many an adventure. Well, today, I'd like to share an insight God gave me about some of the purpose. I hope what I share will spur you on.

The insight came in the form of a dream I had in 2016. At the time I was a regular here, as were many others we still see here. Lynn and Dineen were our beloved pastors and we leaned on them heavily. That's how it looked in October 2016. Now for my dream:

I saw the SUMites walking forward as a group, wearing matching red t-shirts.

Lynn was walking in the front and middle, championing the group.

On each SUMite's t-shirt was a white butterfly, above the right breast.

The scene shifted to a room where the SUMites were gathered around a table, making these t-shirts for others.

It might seem flaky to talk about dreams, and some are definitely just our brains being silly; but this one felt different and scripture does attest that God uses dreams to convey mysteries. Well, this dream of the red t-shirts did something for me. I'll share a little now of what that was.

First, the dream showed Lynn championing us alone, which I didn't think much of at the time. However, a year later Dineen was called to exciting new pastures. As it was actually quite hard to wave goodbye to Dineen, this aspect of the dream opened my eyes that it was an OK new season.

Second, the dream showed SUMites in matching t-shirts -- Like the phrase, 'Been there, got the T-shirt'. I don't know about you, but I can certainly say that about this walk. Funnily enough, I found a 2011 video clip of Lynn and Dineen looking into the camera, smiling and saying to their audience: “Whatever you’re going through, know that we’ve been through it and got the shirt!” It makes me smile. A decade on, I believe many of us can say to those on the path behind us: "Whatever you're facing, I've been there". It feels so rewarding when I reach out my hand to another and say that. 

But there’s more. In the dream we are wearing red. To me, that speaks of love all over us. How brightly does the fire of the Lord, forged in hard circumstances, burn on us now? I like to think it's visible. And I can't resist telling you that these red t-shirts of love were even pointed to back in 2007 when Lynn, in an October post, posed the question 'What T-shirt are you wearing?' accompanied by a picture of a woman in a red T-shirt deciding whether her T-shirt would be the T-shirt of love. I hope I'm not jumping about too much here for you as readers, but I thought that was cool. 

As for the white butterfly on our right breast, I believe that represents the spouses carried fiercely on our hearts, in the right place. My love for my husband and my knowledge of his Life in Christ is the badge I wear. In fact, I took a trip through my laptop to find a picture of me in a red shirt for this post; and the one photo I found was this one, here. It stood out to me how much I hold him tight.11 IMG_0293

Finally, the dream showed us making t-shirts for others. I believe this to be a key purpose now. In time we reach the point of helping others clothe themselves with love. I wonder if you're finding this? That you're reaching out your strong hands to people who are just beginning their season of being spiritually mismatched? 

Today, here we are three years on from that dream. After 13 years of posts filled with hope, Lynn's husband got baptized in March. The week of that baptism a huge swarm of butterflies migrated across southern California, where Lynn and Mike live. Likewise, a swarm of transformation blows across us.

Foreseeing this transformation back in 2016, Dineen designed the graphic you see on this post. Called the SUMerfly, it represents the change that this community champions. I love it. I love it all.

So, friends, we are growing love, we are carrying transformation, and eventually we will pass that on!

Now for a question: What experiences are you having of encouraging others?


Rainbow Prayers

Hi everyone, Ann here!

We’ve recently been discussing the power of words here and on the Facebook group, and these conversations have brought back something that happened to me three years ago. I thought I would share the story. It was a time when God showed me two alternative scenarios in terms of how I use words: One scenario was awesome, the other sobering. With words being a theme, I'll have a go at telling it. Mum's Rainbow Prayers

I’ll start with the awesome, which is the best bit. It was a bright February day, and God showed me something that gave me warm fuzzies. He gave me a vision of rainbows coming out of a person’s mouth, accompanied by these words:

The prayers of a faithful person are like fountains of rainbows pouring over the one(s) for whom they pray. 

Wow. Rainbows represent God’s goodness, I loved hearing that. What’s even better is that sometime later I came across an article by an author who had had the same picture: Rainbows coming out of mouths, hitting situations with power. 

That Easter I also found the attached drawing, done by my little boy. There's a rainbow across our family and what looks like a fighter to the left with cape and sword. It reminded me of the rainbows and made me think, “This is how I care for my family -- Through prayer.”

However, it seemed God wanted to show me an alternative perspective, one more sobering. This ‘alternative view’ came on another bright morning but it was a less cheery vision. In this vision I saw some Christians who were doing wonderful work, and, consequently, a man in their life was giving them atheist banter. The Christians began to talk about this man. With good hearts, they weren’t talking that badly but, nonetheless, labels were used. As they spoke, a see-through dome formed around him, a barrier from which he could not escape but could see out of. Outside the barrier was a chocolate Easter egg in foil wrapping. Containment words  2

In the spirit of childlike faith, I’ve constructed a visual of this scenario in the attached picture. I couldn’t find an Easter egg so an evil foil-wrapped Easter Bunny will do. We’re God’s kids, and we’re learning, so a childlike depiction seemed fitting. The Easter bunny will be explained in a minute. 

What this vision told me is that words construct barriers and walls. In this vision, unintentional words were keeping the ‘atheist’ contained to the point that all he could see of the Easter message was chocolate and emptiness.

James 3 tell us that the tongue, though seemingly harmless, is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Yikes, that’s strong. Stronger still, though, is the fact God spoke the universe into existence. Made in God’s image but living in a world where light and dark collide, how powerful, exactly, are our words? Scripture shows examples of God encouraging his children to speak impact. Moses, for example, was told to speak to the rock so that water would come out; Ezekiel was told to speak life into dry bones. But, on the flip side, what power Jesus had to limit the fig tree with one apparently harmless sentence:

And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately, the fig tree withered away. Matthew 21:19 (NKJV)

As believers, are we saying about any fig tree, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again?” Who in our life do we refer to regularly, for example, as ‘atheist’? Are we even tearing down places, families, and churches with our words? I’ve been sitting with the thought asking myself what degree of ROAR, as a daughter of God, my tongue holds and whether I'm being wise enough.

Finally, what I like about these two visions is that the arch of the rainbow contrasts with the arch of the dome. It’s as if they are two contrasting choices a Christian has when speaking about another person. For us, as friends, I guess it's one more story for our war-chest.

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 (NKJV)

It'd be interesting to chat about what situations this might apply, keen to hear your thoughts?

In friendship,

Ann


Our Story is His Story: History in the Making

Portugese man o war  SUMWhat does the SUM ministry and the blue-bottle jellyfish have in common?

What a strange question, but it’s one that God gave me back in 2016 while our community was fasting. For those who are new here, we fast each year together and it’s not unheard of to hear a word or two for us all during those times.

Indeed, there I was during that fast, hungry and horizontal, when suddenly a picture of a blue-bottle jellyfish swooshed across my mind -- Flash. It was gone as quickly as it came but I promptly knew it was about the SUMites.   

When something like that happens it’s an invitation to explore, so I went to Google, typed ‘blue bottle jellyfish’ and began to read. The lines progressed and, as they did, I began to link this extraordinary creature with our beloved ministry here. Some three years later I’d like to share it, it makes me smile.

First, the jellyfish itself:

Electric blue, it might look like one organism but is, in fact, a colony. It comprises numerous individuals called zooids that hang together. They need each other, and so they journey as one. In this state they have absolute power in their territory. Their tentacles are long, deep, and especially venomous. With one brush the prey is paralyzed. Predators stay away from this ‘terror of the seas’.

Interesting, but how does it link to the SUMites?

Well, journeying together like this jellyfish, we’re venomous and terrifying to the enemy. Through our situations, spiritual weaponry is a necessity and we become prayer warriors of the strongest kind. It’s what we learn. The way the jellyfish moves, though, is entirely restful. It’s through the momentum of tides and winds with propulsion coming from outside. In the same way, we here move forward through God’s strength alone.

SUM family, I love the analogy of us interconnected as this strong unit, and I might share now a little of my personal experience as an observer and beneficiary of this ministry:

I first came here in 2014, "a half-baked Christian", "crumpled", who "can’t do any of the things that Christians do." I posted these comments and received encouragement back. "You can do it, Ann, keep going!" Well, five years on I’m relieved to report I’m fully uncrumpled and there's nothing half-baked going on here. To be serious, though, the change in my mindset is marked. I’m charging on in faith.

That’s me. But what I like even more is this ministry’s wider story. It speaks to me of God’s intentionality, and it’s a story I believe many of us will be telling: It's a testimony of a whole community and what happened next.

Back in 2006, we saw one woman (Lynn), then two (Lynn and Dineen), and more, choose obedience, with tangible outcomes. Obedience shone through every one of their posts. Like Abraham taking Isaac to Mt Moriah in Genesis 22:2-8, they modeled the deepest sacrifice: “Put your spouse on the altar, risk that they won’t like you anymore, and choose to say yes to Me”. The rest of us have been doing the same. Amidst frequent anguished wails, we've been growing the fruit of the Spirit. What happens when multiple people obey God to this degree and for this long? What does obedience do? It makes the demons stumble. 

Alongside Lynn and Dineen, there is a 13-year story of a community of believers becoming fearsome. It’s a colony that God has built, and a place where the fruit of the Spirit has ripened. From where I sit, there is a visible change in many I have come to know here. It's a story that shouts, ‘COME OVER HERE, TURN IN AND SEE!’ It’s not the salvation of spouses that grabs me the most, though of course we’ve had that! The most noticeable thing, for me, is what’s happened to the SUMites themselves.

We’ve gone from "How are we going to live practically and well in this situation" to "Let’s bring walls CRASHING down!" and, most importantly, "Let’s love God with all of our heart, our soul and our mind". A new book is upon us, and a new season. I'm excited.

Strong and deep as that electric-blue jellyfish, we have a lot to say next and a mutual story to tell. SUMites, I’d be keen to hear your comments. And for now, may we be the most fearsome terror of the seas together!

In friendship,

Ann


"And My Hands Dripped with Myrrh"

If you were to open Google earth right now, you’d see a picture of earth from on high. Zoom in, and you’d see New Zealand, Auckland, then a suburb. Zoom in. You’d see a house. Oh, and there inside that house, there’s a girl, me, where God placed her. Unlock the door  SUM

Zoom out. Zoom in again. India. Another believer. Another location. Another heart.

Sometimes I wonder why on earth I’ve been placed in New Zealand and how to live with the fact that my life here is so seemingly comfortable while other locations are less so. As I’ve lived with that question, though, I’ve come to see that everything in the Kingdom is topsy-turvy, and in Kingdom currency, the most comfortable people don’t have it easy.

The important question is “What is my heart’s response to my circumstances, to this place God has me?”

SUMites, in this post today I feel I’d like to share something that has spoken to me strongly since April last year. The way it came was unusual, which always makes me sit up and take notice. Here’s what happened:

It was 20 April last year, I came on here to check a post I’d written. As I opened the post and saw the opening sentence, I became puzzled. “I didn’t write that sentence,” I thought. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It was still there. “Huh…. I didn’t write that! … That’s strange”. I grabbed paper and pen and wrote the words I saw. I then looked again and – blow me down - the sentence had gone and the post had gone back to normal!

Was I seeing things? Nothing like that has happened before, but sometimes when things are a one-off they stick out. These are the words I ‘saw’:

He has placed us around the world to love Jesus.

Ever since that day I’ve been thinking about this sentence, us, and our placements. The whole time I’d thought it was about the fact we’ve been placed where we are to love other people. Yes, Lord? But this week, I saw it differently. It’s a long story, but over the weekend He spun me in a different direction, and here’s what I was led to instead:

Wherever we’ve been placed, whatever the ease or discomfort, the primary thing in life is to love HIM. Jesus. For Himself.

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV).

After all,

“The first of all commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29-30, NKJV)

And the second commandment, like it, is to love people; but the second flows from the first. If we are placed for the sole purpose of loving Jesus, then, here’s what’s on the tip of my typing fingertips:

To love Jesus means to find Him enough. To find Him everything we could ever want. To hunger and thirst after Him. To want to worship Him only, in the privacy of our homes. To spend thoughts on Him. To sit in His company and ask Him who He is. And more.

And if we don’t feel we’re good at it, it is even just about taking a baby step forward, saying “I unlock the door that lets You in, Jesus”, much like the graphic imagery of opening for a lover:

“I arose to open for my beloved and my hands dripped with myrrh.” (Song 5:4, NKVJ).

Perhaps this word is, in fact, an encouragement about the sweet spot SUMites have. Because of our unique circumstances, we know, clearly, what gaps we need Jesus to fill.

We need Him as co-parent, protector, friend, and encourager as we walk solo in our faith. We need His hand gripping us. How we need it: That we know! When our faith is challenged, we hurtle towards the secret place (Psalm 91:1); and that’s what it's all about: After all, the secret place is a space that is not shared.

If that’s our placement and a strength of ours, perhaps we can share some thoughts on this. What does it look like to love Jesus? How do we do even more to let Him in?

Nice chatting, SUMites. I, for one, am sitting with this thought.


Deliverance After YEARS Of Torment! Hallelujah!

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

The last couple of months I have been sharing a bit about what I have learned from reading a book called From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris. I was assigned to read this book in class and I am so glad that I read it! This book has been truly amazing. To read the previous two posts I've written in this "mini-series" click on the links below.

This Is Just The Pits!

Do You Want Evidence Or The Truth?

In September I began to take steps to transition into a new church. As you read this, I have now been at this new church for 3 weeks. Each and every week has been so powerful and effective. Today I want to share with you a recent experience unlike anything I've ever had. It happened a little over a week ago on October 14, 2018. The following is what I posted the next day on Facebook (sharing here as well since a lot of you may not have Facebook or seen it because we aren't "friends"):

 Worship at Hub is amazing. God is there. Holy Spirit presence is thick and tangible. We were singing a song I had never heard before. The lyrics were powerful and the words that floored me at the time were talking about laying my whole life down before Jesus our Savior. I was already worshipping on my knees but I couldn't help but crouch face down before God. I felt so heavy and overloaded. I was just crying and crying before God. My words spoken in tears and sobs. All of a sudden it was like God said, "get up." Not in an angry way but an empowering way...if that makes sense. I sat up and it was like I saw myself in the place of the woman caught in adultry that was brought before Jesus. The crowd, stones in hand set to stone her. Jesus calmly and matter of factly said, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." Slowly, one by one the people left. Once everyone was gone, I pictured Jesus Freedom foreverlift up my chin so I would look him in the eyes. Crouched on the ground seeing His eyes intent on mine. Looking into my soul. Just like He did with the woman that day, He said, "who condemns you?" Looking around I reply, "No one Sir." In that instant...I felt all the weight of condemnation lifted. It was like I had an hour long deep tissue massage. Every fiber of my  being, relaxed and stress free. I realized later after worship and after the service...reflecting on what happened in that moment. Those people standing and surrounding me so quick to condemn and judge...were different versions of ME. How often I have shot myself down, I have stoned myself for a mis-spoken word, a harsh tone, a forgotten task, a wrong thought...I have been stoning myself for years and as God clearly told me to get up - it was giving me my life back. It was His GRACE UPON GRACE. His mercy. His true love. He doesn't keep record of wrongs...and neither should I. NO LONGER DO I. This morning, as life went on as usual...I reacted in ways I am tyring to change (short with my daughter when she cries about everything she wears - meltown after meltdown this morning and my shortness with her, attitude from tired children, etc) but the major difference was this. No one condemns me...not even myself. I made a mistake, asked for forgivenenss and moved on. The first instance my flesh tried to condemn me I heard the words "no one Sir." Loud and clear and it reminded me of the freedom that I was given. Once and for all. I will never go back. Once that transaction was finished Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." Can you image the freedom, the joy, the apreciation she felt with that moment? I can...because I do.

 You may have to click on the picture to better see but I found the moment in worship where this exchange happened. Today I stand free from years of mental torment. As I think about this moment it still brings tears to my eyes because every moment since then has been a blessing. Please know that it doesn't mean that I am perfect or care free. I still have some struggles that God is working on in me. Holy Spirit is still pruning and I've got a lot of work to do. However, I am no longer hopeless.

I've gone a little long this time so let me wrap up with this:

I have been blessed to be a blessing. So today, I bless you with joy unspeakable; freedom from weight (even YEARS worth) of torment - mental, emotional, spiritual, physical; victory beyond belief; confidence in your Daddy; hope to weather the storm; faith, life, salvation for your spouse and loved ones; light in the darkness; advancement in the Kingdom where you feel backslidden; fire shut up in your bones; fight and fierceness; and love beyond compare.

Below is the song that brought me to the feet of Jesus and ushered me into freedom.

See you in the comments. I would love to pray over you for your own deliverance.


A Very Special Rescue

Somewhere over the rainbow  SUMHi friends 

How’s the fasting going? This one's ambitious for me – soup only for dinner has made me starry-eyed! But I'm enjoying the afternoons where I can just sit.

I hope you enjoyed yesterday's clips. Amazingly, there is a part two to that story, which I've been excited to share. I'll start with this scripture, which I believe is for us today:

“In that day, there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; ... And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea.” Isaiah 11:11 (NKJV) 

Now to the story:

Remember back in June the twelve Thai boys and their coach in the cave? People across the world, regardless of race, extended their compassion. It was a testimony of love.

When the boys were found, my tears flowed for these little children who needed to be tucked up in a warm bed by their mums and dads. I was compelled to pray, and I saw that others were too.

A week in, the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper something to me about these boys: I seemed to hear the words baptized and memorialized, and then, Adding up to twelve. I couldn’t help but quietly believe that all twelve children would be saved.

As we know, the rescue looked impossible. There was dwindling oxygen and rising flood waters. Then, suddenly, we heard “The rescue is ON!” Hours ticked by, then the news came: The first boy is out!  Half an hour later, the second boy!  Then, the third boy!  And then the fourth! 

Overnight, more would come out. Five!  Six! A seventh! More of a wait. Then: Eight! Nine! Ten! Alive alive alive!

Finally, the eleventh, the twelfth. All alive, adding up to twelve. Then came the coach, who had got them on this adventure, and endured it with them.

Just as the last rescue was completed, workers in the cave came racing out – A pump had failed and water had risen suddenly. Thinking Moses and the red sea, my ears pricked up - Coincidence, or miracle?

Later, I learned that the rescuers had first traced the boys’ path within the cave by seeing hand prints on the walls.  Something in my memory jogged and I remembered I'd had a dream about hand prints! Racing to my journal, I found that dream: It was of Lynn finding hand prints, the prints showing who had been where. There was a sense that they were like individualized fingerprints, except hand prints. The date of the dream, 23 June, was the very day the boys entered the cave. Underneath, I had written this:

“Lord, help me lead my boys to you, please give me the words. It needs a miracle. Be with me like you were with Moses.”

Wow. It sounded prophetic. Of course, it was a prayer about my own boys, but could it be these Thai boys symbolized something? See, that night, I had also dreamt of a person who was so stuck in unbelief they could not even be in the same room as Christians, so great was the distance of separation. Further, that very same night I had dreamt of people talking about their favorite recipes, foreign recipes. Well, blow me down, in the media, the boys were seen listing their favorite recipes! Just like yesterday's story, it seemed so unusual. What did it mean? Here's an initial thought:

Like these hand prints, God knows exactly how people got stuck where they are, and how to get them out. These people who are separated from Him are starving, and they may be thinking other food besides the Bread of Life is going to satisfy them. No matter, God will get them out. Indeed, He will set His hand again, and again to recover those who are left, whatever their area of difficulty (Isaiah 11:11). After all, they’re precious children, and they're loved. 

SUMites, I hope this encourages you, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. What else do you see in this story? 

Lord, help the SUMites lead our precious ones to you, please give us the words. It needs a miracle. Be with us like you were with Moses. May their story be a memorial and may many be baptized. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Take a Look

Hi everyone!  Somewhere over the rainbow  SUM

It's day two of the fast, and I hope you’re doing well. If one day you don’t manage what you set out to, don’t worry -- we just pick ourselves up and carry on.

One thing that I believe God adores about the SUMites is our HOPE. Like Abraham, who had a son at age 100, we have been given something unbelievable to hope for: The turning of hearts among those who would be the least likely. Holding on to this hope is pretty difficult, but if we choose it we are partnering in God’s move:

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations.” Romans 4:18 (NIV)

What is hope?

One possibility is that it's the actual picture of the victory, which we then choose to believe. It is, perhaps, the ‘different spirit’ held by Joshua and Caleb, who were sent to spy out the promised land. Instead of focusing on the scary giants, they saw the milk and the honey in the new land (Numbers 14:7-12). In their mind’s eye, the milk and honey were “flowing” – meaning, it was vivid, lively, and active to them. It was the vibrant future they would step towards.

It takes a different spirit to choose hope.

"But My servant, Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it." Numbers 14:24 (NKJV)

Like Caleb and Joshua, we can see the milk and honey when looking at our situation, never mind the giants. However, like anything, we need God’s help to do this. Today I feel He wants to gift us that help. I hear Him say today, “Tell your hearts to dream again!”

Here’s a word I’ve been holding for the SUM community, I pray that it will reignite hope for us all.

A few weeks ago (17th of August), I woke to hear the Holy Spirit say “Look!” And then this:

“LOOK among the nations and watch –

Be utterly astounded!

For I will work a work in your days

Which you would not believe if it were told you.” 

Habakkuk 1:5 (NKJV)

This is hope. LOOK. Some things look powerless, difficult, but no -- LOOK.

On that morning, this word -- ‘LOOK’ -- was followed by a vision (like a video clip playing in my head): It was of a bunch of miners in white hard hats, cheering. This was very random, but it was as if God was saying, "Go on, look at this picture".

I had no idea what to make of the vision, but later that day it occurred to me to google ‘miners’. This took me straight to a YouTube clip of a group of miners in white hard hats cheering! My mouth dropped open, and I laughed as I saw it – God is fun. But then, in all seriousness, I realized this clip was of the 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped and then rescued in 2011 – which, of course was no laughing matter at the time.

Why on earth did God point me to this?  The answer, I believe, is that He wants us to LOOK and visualize what Rescue will look like; because what is coming to us is a rescue of eye-catching and communal proportions.

"For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe if it were told you." Habakkuk 1:5 (NKJV)

I’m going to let the clip speak for itself to you – well, there were two. Here they are below. See what imagery they bring to you as you think about the rescue that God carries out and promises:

 

This, to me, is milk and honey. It's a lively picture, it's our vibrant future. It's what I’m going to choose to focus on.

Perhaps we can share in the comments what these clips say to us, what we notice in them, and what we will do with this hope.

Be encouraged, friends – I am! – and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Ann


The Power to Accomplish

God wants to draw us closer to Him. He delights in using unusual and strange means to speak to us, drawing us away from the mundane routine of our lives to pursue Him. Since most of us are prone to living our lives independent of Him, He uses something unusual to catch our attention and draw us to Himself. He speaks in a cryptic fashion so that we have to seek Him for understanding. Many times He will use a vision, dream, impression, or some other phenomenon to get our attention. When we are captured by the phenomenon and begin investigating, God then speaks to us and brings us into His presence. -- Steve Thompson (You May All Prophesy! p. 52)

Hey SUM family, Tiffany again!

Over the years I have always been amazed at the God-sized things that people have done in ministry and missions. I have been overwhelmed by the time, talent, and treasure of the Church and yet I never believed that I would be able to do something as great as....fill in the blank.

5 years or so I came across a quote (for the life of me I can't remember the source) about how God doesn't set us aside as in cast us out but set us apart as believers for a greater purpose and calling. Sure, sure, I would think. I hear you, but that isn't a word for me. I am truly nothing special or unique. In looking back I have believed this lie for many years before that quote hit my eyes. Up until more recently I have been crippled by this line of thinking. What could God possibly want to do with me? I disqualified myself.

It wasn't until this last year when God really got my attention through my 40 hour a week job (one that I didn't even WANT in the first place) that I was FORCED to see how uniquely and wonderfully made I was for such a time as this. Honestly, it started with a hunger and deep desire for something more. It really is that simple. God WANTS to draw us closer to Himself. When we come hungry, begging for His presence...when we are feeding on His word and devoting time to know Him...He is so pleased!

Check this out:

Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was buringing with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, "I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up." When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." (Exodus 3:1-4 NAS).

Let me be the voice to say, don't get familiar with the mundane. Jesus didn't come for that type of life. He came to give us abundance. How amazing that we are seeing miraculous things going on in our midst! We are living in some pretty amazing times. I wonder if maybe God has been allowing such hardship and trial and suffering in our lives lately (even if lasting for a few years) to create a deeper desperation for Him. When we get too familiar with comfort, we end up getting lazy. We don't tend to fan the flame as diligently...as least I don't.

I am not sure what is coming but I get this impression of expecting...as if pregnant...expecting and waiting with anticipation for delivery. A birthing of something new, something special, something unique, something for such a time as this.

1530070820845_26738696-1529963978484I came across this verse this morning and I was absolutely blown away by the word accomplish as this is my word for the year. How blessed we are to have such talents and giftings unique to our own situation and lives. I think of the beautiful drawings/paintings, visions, dreams, renderings, hobbies etc that have been revealed in our community. 

If you are gifted to paint, by all means paint! If you are gifted to write, by all means write! If you are gifted to render images/collages, by all means do so! If you are gifted to write music or sing, by all means do so! I think it no coincidence that we are seeing so many works of art showing up and God using our talents and gifts in such a way. People are leaving the church buildings and I think we will be able to reach more and more by new ways of communication through the artistic!

Share in the comments some things that God is prompting you to do. After all, only YOU can fulfill this because it is God's purpose for your life. Lets lift each other up and spur each other on to ACCOMPLISH the callings on our lives. I'll go first: write a book called Vicarious to Victorious: stepping into the destiny that God had in mind for you; write a 30 day devotional on #FingerprintRevelations; pickup with Connecting Verses - where music and scripture collide.


Our Bottom Drawer

Hi friends, Ann here!

In preparation for today’s post I’d been asking God what to write. I had a head full of ideas but in the early hours of this morning those went completely out the window as I woke with a pounding heart and a picture of a cavernous wooden bottom drawer!  Drawer As I lay trying to make sense of it, words from the Holy Spirit landed in my head:

SUMites, as you fill your bottom drawer you’re providing for those who have been named ‘clear and bright’, and you are evangelizing through a microphone.

This, it seemed, was to be today’s post: A bottom drawer, provision, and a microphone, what fun! I’ll describe where it took me, and I hope this word encourages you today.

The Bottom Drawer

In times past, hopeful young women used to collect special things in a ‘bottom drawer’ to bring to their marriage. It included beautiful linen, tea-cups, and other treasures that would be both pretty and useful for their home.

As I write, I’m looking straight at two tea cups that sit on my piano, bottom-drawer items: One belonged to my great-grandma, Lucy, and the other to her mother, Elizabeth. I know for sure that Lucy’s was part of a set gifted to her by church when she turned 18. 

Setting up a bottom drawer was an act of imagination and anticipation. There was an element of the great unknown. Who would the husband be? What would her home be like?

SUMites, I relate to this as I carry a whole bellyful of hope for my family these days! While we wait, we can fill our own spiritual bottom drawer and do it with a whole lot of hope and imagination; yet, there’s a leap of faith, and perhaps a little anxiety there. I well remember as a teenager, thinking ‘what if I don’t get married?!’ In the same way, thoughts creep in: What if the three people I love most in the world never say yes to God? It can floor me, that thought.

But NO. The fact we have this word from the Holy Spirit says to me don't go there. It’s as if He says, ‘Go ahead and fill your bottom drawer, SUMites!’ These are bottom drawers to be brought not only to our physical homes, but also our eternity with Jesus Christ (Rev 19:6-9), bottom drawers that will eventually provide for those who are going to be ‘Clear’ and ‘Bright’ – Does He mean our families? I’ll gladly receive that as a promise.

CupsBut what are the special things we’re collecting? As I chew on that, it seems that they’re items that support rest, beautify the home, and help us feed our family and invite others in. They’re things that will be passed down to generations -- enjoyed in the immediate family, but also beyond.

As I think of all the comments I’ve read on this blog over the years, I picture each SUMite’s bottom drawer being filled with the prayers they’ve prayed and the promises they’ve believed. I see family records they’ve kept, and acts of church giving that have been so tough to pull off.  Most of all, I visualize each, and every, choice to love – often against the odds or against popular opinion.

Whatever they look like, these drawers of ours are full of things that are carefully curated, ready, and just waiting. 

But wait, what about the last words, As you fill that drawer you are evangelizing through a microphone? As someone who finds it hard to speak up against opinions, can I say how much that surprises me and shocks me into a different way of seeing things? See, I’m surrounded by friends and colleagues who are verbal in their opposition to Jesus. In that environment, I tend to be the quietist one on the block. I often feel, ‘I don’t even have the words...’ 

“O my Lord, I am not eloquent..” (Exodus 4:10)

But, quiet as I am, this word now says something different: Every time I invest in my, and my family’s, future I'm out and loud. Others will hear it as clear and bright as day and will catch the light. After all, it's the loudest sound in the room.

“Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.” (Acts 10:4)

SUMites, what are your thoughts? How does this word speak to you? Let’s chat - I can’t wait to hear your insights.


#fingerprintrevelations

Hey SUMnation! Tiffany here.

Some of you have heard me talk about this unique journey that the Lord has me on right now with my job. I shared this on the SUM sisters in Christ group on Facebook but wanted to reach out and share here as some of you (especially the men) may have questions about what I do as a job and how God is gifting me for ministry. I wanted to give you a quick snap shot into where I spend 40 hours a week and when my heart is prepped right and my mind focusing on the Lord I am given insight that can only come from the Holy Spirit.

 

FPWelcome to my fingerprinting station (picture left). There are two other girls that I work with in my office and we each have our own computer/desk and our own fingerprint station. For the most part my day is split between this view and the view of my desk and computer. This machine has become my "buddy" over the last year. We spend a lot of time together. Maybe I should name it. ::grin:: I have to say I have done a lot of contemplating and talking with the Lord here. In thinking of Moses and the burning bush...if I had the ability to take my shoes off here...I would. This is holy ground. Before I begin to sound sacrilegious I will continue the tour and you will see why I feel this way.

FP2Step on up to the machine! I tried to capture this as best as possible but just imagine this view from your own eyes (picture right).When I fingerprint people we are up close and personal so to speak. The customer stands in front of the fingerprinting machine called Livescan and I stand to the left of the machine. I use gloves during the time of fingerprinting someone but I essentially am holding hands with each person I print. I wish I could tell you how or when this started but my first conscious recollection was feeling a tingling sensation in my hands when fingerprinting someone when I first started doing this job over 2 years ago. I didn't understand at the time. There wasn't any actual guiding from the Holy Spirit at that point just a realization that this feeling in my hands was different than I'd ever experienced before. Eventually I had caught on that it wasn't with everyone I printed and so in the secret of my mind I would pray for those people.

FP1
Placing hand on the Livescan brings a digital print onto the screen

I began to be amazed at how much a stranger would open up to someone like me - a fingerprinter who spends maybe 10 or 15 minutes with you. The crazy thing is they had no idea that I was willing to pray for them and yet the Holy Spirit would open up this close space and meet us there. Where 2 or more are gathered together in Jesus' name - He is there. In doing this job (please let me know if this is not biblically sound) I am beginning to feel as though the where 2 or more are gathered together in His name doesn't have to mean consciously. I mean look at our community. Some of our spouses are willing to allow us to gather together in Jesus name - when our spouses let us pray over them and with them. But, for those of you who have to be more secretive about your prayer life because of hostile spouses - when you intercede on their behalf and they are in the room...my friends...Jesus still shows up whether they know it or not! As I have grown and matured (though only a small amount) in my job I have begun to view this as a ministry. When people open up it could be as simple as they need fingerprinted because they just got a new job that requires a background check. It can also be as complicated and broken as a man getting fingerprinted for a step-parent adoption. He married the love of his life who happened to be a sex abuse victim in her teens from her step-father (close to home or what??). Cancer and chemo. Military veteran who was having a second surgery on his shoulder. Widows. Gender-identity confused individuals. A man with a tattoo behind his ear with the number 666 and cartoonish devil horns and tail. Sex offenders who have been convicted of some really atrocious things. I could go on and on...and that is just from either conversation that was opened up or earthly (physical) observation/knowledge.

I have seen some really amazing things during this fascinating season of work but I have to be completely honest with you. I am sure you can relate when ministering to others that it can be really exhausting. You know that God has called you to help and has brought people into your life that you are supposed to pour into and be a light and example to...to train up and disciple...to intercede for - even for just a moment in time. It is so hard to be vulnerable because it opens up your heart to rejoice and mourn with those around you (Romans 12:15). In the past having issues with depression and anxiety I often times get overwhelmed and it is almost like a defense mechanism goes off inside of me and it says - back away, you aren't equipped to handle this. I get in slumps where I think if I avoid God than He won't ask me to do it anymore. I know this is ugly and wrong. I am the only one (that I know of...it's not like I talk to fingerprinters other than my co-workers) equipped to THIS calling. I have to press in and keep fighting. I have to keep leaning in to the Father who has gifted me for such a time as this and such a WAY as this. I have to stand in the gap for those who come my way because I may be the ONLY one who will.

I've gone a little longer than anticipated and so I want to stop here but next time I will continue on with this #fingerprintrevelations story. So much more to share as God allows. I want to talk about the amazing post and work from Libby recently.

In the comments, can you share some tips that help you overcome the heavy burden of ministering to others? Any Bible verse(s) that keep you going? Also, how has God positioned you in your own specific, unique, and powerful way to minister to those around you everyday?

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

--Isaiah 43:19


I See Two of You

Ann here!  Last month I wrote about how God had been having some fun with me using figs. If you missed that post you can read it here. Well, today I wanted to share part two of that story. It includes a further promise for us SUMites. I hope you enjoy it:

One day last year it occurred to me to ask God a curious question: “Lord, what do you see when you look at my situation?” Twinbabies SUM

I'm sure God prompts such questions and, sure enough, the answer came the next morning:

I see two of you.

I'd been expecting an answer that would refer to me, but two of us? That gave me something to ponder.

A month later, on the topic of ‘two of you’, an unusual picture landed in my head. The picture was of me and my husband as babies strapped in a baby-carrier, one in front of the other. I was the one at the back, my husband was in front. Along with the picture, God seemed to say this:

Ann, you and Bryce are My two babies and I’m carrying you. Right now, you’re the one next to My chest hearing My heartbeat but he’s the one people will notice. You’re both held firmly in place but one day you might wake up and find you’ve been swapped.

For real? This is not the first time I've felt the Holy Spirit speak of the SUMites' spouses as His babies (Luke 13:34), but what this picture meant most to me was that God adores my husband, and there is some deliberate placement on the Father's part with our two separate-but-joined stories (John 6:44).

This ‘journey of two’ brings me back to our salvation promise from 2016, where God promised us that our spouses are like the 'very good' figs in Jeremiah 24:1-7. Recently, I've been thinking about that promise and especially the words ‘very good’.

Had you noticed those words are the same words used to describe the male-female partnership that God created in Genesis 1? As God created the oceans, stars, animals, and so on, He saw that each thing was good (Gen 1:1-25), but once He had created people, male and female, it was very good (Gen 1:31). With the ingredients of an Adam, an Eve, light, darkness, and free will, creation would fall. Still, it was very good.

The same words, very good, are relevant to our situations which, right now, might not look at all good. Not only does God describe our spouses as very good (Jer 24:3). He also says, “I have sent them out of this place for their own good” (v. 5) and “I will set My eyes on them for good” (v. 6). I can't help but be cheered along by what seems to be a clear promise of full restoration, back to the way He always intended things to be.

This sense of things being 'very good' for both parties in a SUM leads me to one final piece about the figs that I’ve been looking forward to sharing. It’s a phrase from the Holy Spirit that I heard:

A strong basket denotes fig season.

Hearing this phrase reminded me that the figs in Jeremiah 24 are, in fact, held by a basket, and I believe God is saying that the basket symbolizes us: A community of interwoven believers made up of many strands and carrying our spouses very deliberately.

This phrase also tells me that fig season will surely come! We've been waiting a while now, but ripening takes time as does the strengthening of the basket. When salvation finally comes our strength will denote the season, meaning that it will be a mark, sign, and characteristic of that time.

And so we are being strengthened and our spouses are being ripened, and when the perfect time has come there will two outcomes: A strong SUM community, and spouses with whole hearts for God (Jer 24:7). Those are two very good sides to one story. And that's what I believe God sees in this: Many, many stories of two.

So now I’m curious to hear: What does your story of two look like, and in what areas are you becoming strong? I'd love to ask about your spouses too, but it's hard to know what their story will be!  All in good time.


Very Good Figs

FigsHi everyone, Ann here.

My husband would freely admit that the chances of him turning ‘exuberant Christian’ of his own doing are a great big zero. I’m laughing. It’s a funny thought to him and to me. 

It’s impossible. And yet I believe with all my heart it'll happen. I’m not the sort who goes around being sure about things, but ... I just have my reasons. Today I can't resist sharing just one: 

Some time ago, I had a dream. In it I held a fig. I wanted to plant it, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how. That was it, the whole dream. ‘Exciting dream,’ I hear you say!

Not exactly exciting, but it did strike me as unusual and so I wrote it down in my journal along with the date. I even looked up figs in the Bible, but nothing gelled. 

Imagine my excitement when a few short weeks later (in our January fast, 2016), Dineen posted that the Holy Spirit had told her our spouses were like the figs from Jeremiah 24:7! Her word laid out for us an enormous promise of our spouses’ salvation. I'll paraphrase it here, but you can click here to read the whole word:

He will return our spouses to Him, He will give them a heart to know Him.  He will plant them and not pluck them up.  He will build them and not tear them down. And this is a promise: Salvation is coming.  

Even the word ‘plant’ was in there, just like my dream. It was striking. But that was just the beginning.

Months later, 4 July 2016, Dineen wrote another inspired post for us. We were being lavished with promise as a community. This time, she felt God was saying that He is constructing the SUM community into a spiritual house and that latter house will be better than the former. Some of you will remember that Dineen was building an actual house and so there was an exciting series of posts where her house-building reflected what she was hearing spiritually. In fact, the very day I read Dineen's first house post I’d woken with a picture of a house in my head. Yet another ‘coincidence’, but that’s not even the part I’m coming to.

The part I’m coming to happened on a bad day, I’m afraid. One day, while on holiday the aloneness of my faith overwhelmed me, and I ended up hitting my pillow in a desperate mess. “Please,” I called to God, “I am really struggling here. Please help me.”

He helped me. The next morning I woke with a single word in my head: Bethphage. 

I grabbed my iPad and typed ‘Bethphage’. I discovered it was the place Jesus took the Palm Sunday donkey from. But mm, that wasn’t quite it. “Let me just look up the name meaning,” I thought. And here’s what Bethphage means ……{drum roll}:

House of figs!

True story!  

A few weeks later, I was skipping along, much happier. ‘Bethphage’ had helped. “What shall I pray for?” I asked God. This was an improvement on the paralyzed ‘help’ prayer that I had only prayed weeks earlier. Now I was strong enough to do something productive. As I asked that question, my eye caught something on the ground.  What’s that?  I peered over it. And then I realized: It was a fig! A lone fig. My eyes lifted upwards, there was no fig tree in sight. Only later would I realize that it wasn’t even fig season: it was the middle of winter. I picked that fig up, popped it in my pocket, and held it all day. It felt like I’d just been given a bunch of flowers.

What should I pray for? His answer: Pray for the figs.

So here’s a prayer for us today:

Lord God, I dare to believe that you will do the impossible for with You nothing is impossible. 

I know that for all the times we've been carried away You deem us and our spouses 'very good', we are sanctified. 

I believe that You will give us all a heart to know you, we will be Yours, You will be ours.  

Help me to know how to pray for my life partner, and help me to never stop praying - 24/7.

In Jesus' name, I receive these promises gladly. Amen.


Fellow Laborers

“It’s hard being a girl guide!”

Those words, inaudible but clear, woke me one morning, just as the birds were beginning to sing. It felt like a word from the Holy Spirit, but I struggled to understand. Only months later did a sudden ‘a-ha’ come: SUM Girl guide

I am the ‘girl who guides’ my husband, the one who spiritually leads. It’s not the way God intended. That’s why it's so hard.

God had just explained my hurting heart to me. It doesn’t sound much, but it was really helpful. 

I thought that was it, but last week, quite unexpectedly, this ‘girl guide’ word unfolded into something more: A promise for our community! I feel led to post it here, and I hope it encourages you, as it has me.

Here’s what happened:

Last week, one of our SUMites, Jan, had a dream featuring boy scouts. She described it on our Facebook group and asked, ‘Does this mean anything to anyone?’ My ears pricked up (girl guides ... boy scouts), and the minute I read it a meaning came. In fact, the dream was one of two she had:  

In the first dream, we (the SUMites) were diligently working away at desks. Lynn came in to meet with us, but first had an interview with CNN to complete. 

In the second dream, we were at an outdoor venue and were showing a movie about Jesus. One person, a spouse, was attempting to compare Jesus and a Greek god as dying on the same day. Lynn had to leave to go to another event, but we ended up having a large group of boy scouts from Maryland show up, and we began the movie again. 

The first thing I thought of was that two dreams can mean "the matter has firmly been decided by God, and God will do it soon" (Gen 41:32). Well, here we had two dreams - What fun! In both, we were working as a team, with Lynn leading us while also ministering elsewhere. These dreams, to me, seemed to address something intentional about our work.

I can't help but think we’re watching Lynn’s reach extending and expanding -- it's exciting. And perhaps these dreams suggest that the rest of us also have new work ahead! Like the outdoor movie, we evangelise outside the church walls -- and we show more than tell. We have begun that work, but our effectiveness will really bloom once our spouses join us.

Currently, our spouses issue a voice of challenge. But we do know that will change. Where the spouse in the dream was initially arguing that Jesus was no different to a myth, that sentiment can change so that our spouses declare 'the day Jesus died so did everything else false!' Just like Haman’s plans were turned (Esther 6:10-11), the voice of resistance can turn to the voice of persistence!

And the large number of boy scouts?  I believe they represent our spouses, our other halves: boy scouts joining their girl guides. They will come from a place of deep intimacy, a place where people sit at Jesus’ feet (Maryland!) And once they join us, the show will really start.

Pulling it together, then, could it be that our evangelism in the home is only the start of a bigger job -- a wider evangelism -- ahead of us? A job in which we will co-labor with our spouses?

Indeed, 2017 was to be a year of promises revealed (see 9 January) and here it feels like we've gone from being told 'it's hard being a girl guide' to being told the boy scouts are on their way!

It reminds me of this verse:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard.

He will tell you about the future (John 16:13, NLT).

As 2017 closes, have you any further thoughts on this and/or any of the other promises we've been given as a community? It'd be great to hear your thoughts! 

Ann


Martha's Vineyard

Hello everyone

It's Ann here, and I want to share something that's been sitting in my journal for some time. I loved it. I hope you do too.

It was August last year, I was sat in bed armed with a mug of cocoa, pen, and journal. Absent-mindedly, I leafed through the Bible and came across the verse, "Call to me, and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known" (Jer 33:3 ESV). I scribbled it down and said, "God, tell me something great that I don't already know!" SUM rocking chairs with SUM logo

That night turned out to be a little bit strange and wonderful. I could feel the Holy Spirit as I slept. I kept drifting towards wakefulness and each time it seemed He was speaking about the SUM community. There were words that I couldn't catch. Finally, as morning came a phrase landed in my head: Martha's Vineyard.

Now, I knew nothing about Martha's Vineyard. Being British and now living in New Zealand, Martha's Vineyard had never come across my path. "What is it?" I thought. Wikipedia was needed, and what did I find out?  That it is a place of mixed marriages!

Here's the story: Martha's Vineyard (a beautiful island community off the US east coast) had an especially large deaf community. They lived with an inherited deafness from generations past. The majority of these deaf were married to hearing people, hence the term 'mixed marriages'. Because of these marriages, deafness dissipated - both in the way they lived, and among future generations who now hear.

There, the deaf looked different to elsewhere. They were not treated as outcasts. Instead, they were perfectly integrated. Because of the closeness of the deaf-hearing families, sign language was spoken widely across the community, even by the hearing.

Even today, the community's citizens work hard to protect their lifestyle while extending welcome to outsiders. It is a balance that is hard to achieve. This balance makes it a warm, attractive place.  It's such a nice place that others want to live there too.

This is our SUM colony, and I think that's what this word meant -- Martha's Vineyard. I feel God wants us to celebrate our strengths and know how unique and lovely our community is. To us, those who hear less easily are not left out. We love them so much and we 'get' their perspective even though it's not ours. We use their language when speaking about faith. That skill alone is huge for the Kingdom.

Most importantly, though, Martha's Vineyard reminds us that our spouses are integral citizens. They're citizens of the SUM community, and precious citizens of God's household. They add flavor, they are sanctified, and they are part of this beautiful place.

As for us 'Marthas', the ones who work so hard to protect our own, it is interesting to me that the name Martha means 'bitter' in Hebrew and 'woman' in Aramaic - and, yes, our bitterness of soul runs deep. But I believe that God wants us to celebrate the beauty of what we're doing. If we lift our eyes we can see how lovely our island community has become. Isolated, yes, but surrounded by Him. We live in a spiritual place where the homes are beautiful, the residents are rich, and the ocean sparkles all around, bringing the promise of good things.

Lift up your eyes all around, and see:

They all gather together, they come to you;

Your sons shall come from afar, And your daughters shall be nursed at your side.

Then you shall see and become radiant,

And your heart shall swell with joy;

Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,

The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.

(Isaiah 60:4-5, NKJV)

We Marthas, the SUMites, have a beautiful vineyard: It's a place where we keep tightly hold of others, where hearts turn, and where people want 'in'.

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts - especially from any who have been to Martha's Vineyard, or from those who have looked up and seen the beauty of our island community in more metaphorical terms!