218 posts categorized "Salvation"

God Confirms His Promise: Will We Believe It?

Happy Monday, friends!

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

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

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

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

SALVATION is coming to your homes. Figs and canaries

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

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

Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

I am not making this up.

And just beside it was the word 'Promise'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ann


I Will Trust the Promise

Miles and TravisSing to the Lord, for He has done excellent things; this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion (Isaiah 12:5, NKJV)

My friends, thank you so much for sharing the joy with me last week over Miles's salvation. THANK YOU.

Last week while writing all that up, I happened to come across a 2019 blog post that I had written about how difficult I was finding it having teenagers who didn't go to church.

That blog post is here. In it I said something along these lines:

'My teenagers don't go to church right now, and that is really hard. I am stumped. I am fretful.

But God has told me not to worry. He has told me he will work it out. He's told me there will be a tipping point.'

My friends, when I wrote that I had no hope in sight of either of my children going to church or turning their hearts to God. It actually seemed so impossible it was a seemingly 'hopeless' situation.

Yet God had promised.

(Just as I typed that, the words 'I will trust the promise' came out of the song I was listening to).

So I type this again:

Yet God had promised.

It was September 2019 that I wrote that blog post. No hope was in sight.

Eighteen months later, the tipping point came. The Lord kept his promise to me: Miles suddenly signed himself up for church age 15. He did it out of the blue. There was nothing I did except pray and be there.

So now I say with full confidence: God keeps his promises.

(And once again, as I began to re-read this post and read the words 'cry out' at the top, the same words came out of the song I was listening to. Ok, God is in this post.)

The topic of promises and God keeping his promises is such a delicious one. To have a promise from God is quite an experience: You're asked to believe it, you have to align with it and keep nurturing it even when it seems the opposite is happening. And sometimes -- often -- you have to wait a long time. Decades even. But it is an experience.

Have you had a promise from God about anything in particular? Oh, how I would love to hear it. Share in the comments, or even email me if you prefer. I would love, love, love to hear about your promises.

So much love to you all today

Ann


My Dream Came True, Part Three

Mother's DayHi, my friends! Well, it's time to finish off the story of my lovely son giving his life to Jesus.  And I think you'll like this part just as much as the other two parts. I hope so. 

Part one

Part two

Ok, we've got to the part where Miles drove me home after I found out he'd given his life to the Lord. And yes, in the car drive home I was one giddy mum. I affirmed what he'd experienced, telling him I too had had a similar experience several years ago.

So we had an interesting chat.

Once home, in true teenage fashion he disappeared off to his room.

After he went upstairs I could see Bryce was stood in the kitchen alone. So I went over to him and quietly told him. I told him the whole story, in a slightly hushed voice because it felt ... precious. He was as stunned as me! "Really?" he said, in a hushed voice back.

Then he stood in silence, as I did, taking it in and thinking about it. He acknowledged that -- for our boy -- it was a highly unusual moment and must have been a real thing. A God thing.

Honestly, seeing my husband agree with it was as beautiful as seeing Miles come to God. This whole thing was special.

That night my whole family just so happened to be out of the house at different events, and I had the house to myself. I texted our SUM team the news about Miles, they all celebrated with me, and then I hit the floor of my TV room for the rest of the night and cried. I played the song "Good, Good Father on repeat." What an evening; what thankfulness I had for God.

But there was one more surprise to come:

Three days later I was standing in the kitchen cooking dinner when Miles walked in. In a particularly grown-up deep voice he said, "Mum, I'm going out to a small group tonight."

I nearly fell over with surprise but held it together outwardly. "Oh really? That's nice! Whose house are you going to?"

He told me then that he was going to a small group with 10-12 young guys at church who are only slightly older than him. These are young guys I know: Several come to that weekly prayer meeting that recently started at my house (for that story click here). These guys are on fire for God and the perfect fit for him.

Could it get any better? Not really!

That evening, then, as Bryce and I sat at the dinner table Miles came downstairs and headed to the front door, leaving for said small group. "See you later!" he calls out. Under his arm is his Bible.

His Bible!!!! The one that's sat untouched for two years upstairs.

"Bye!" we call out, in parental fashion.

The door closes behind him. And Bryce turns to me:

"Did he have just a Bible under his arm?

"Yep!" I replied.

And we both pulled a stunned face at each other.


My Dream Came True, Part Two

Continuing my story ... Mother's Day

About how my son said his 'yes' to Jesus.

Three weeks ago, Miles left to attend a Christian camp for the weekend. Most of the eight kids he went with had already given their heart to Jesus.

But not my boy, not yet!

On that Sunday morning I went to church. Miles wasn't with me, of course, because he was at the camp. And here's where it gets interesting --

I was sitting at the back of church, and when the sermon finished a girl who was only a couple of years older than Miles got up, walked to just behind the back row of chairs, and threw herself on the ground sobbing. With her face pressed to the ground her shoulders heaved. Church broke up at that point, so there she was kneeling in her own world, and people began to get up and walk past her to the coffee table.

Not wanting her to be so exposed, I walked over, knelt next to her and rubbed her back. She didn't even look up at me. She just sobbed and sobbed.

The sense I had was that the Holy Spirit was touching her rather than her being distressed. I think they were 'Holy Tears' -- I've had that before too. So I leaned down and said to her 'God is touching you.'

Waahhhh! She cried and cried. My hand stayed on her back, as we knelt on that floor. And the rest of the church milled around chatting.

Look after My house, I'll look after yours, God had said to me.

By rubbing her back I guess I was looking after her in some small way. But little did I know that something very similar had happened to Miles only the night before.

That Saturday night, there Miles was, sitting in a service in Matamata a couple of hours from where we live in Auckland.  Matamata is actually famous for being one of the filming locations for the Lord of the Rings films: For those who have seen Lord of the Rings they filmed the Hobbit houses in Matamata. Special little houses. 

Houses.

Look after My house, I'll look after yours. 

Anyway, I kind of digress: There was Miles, sat in a youth service in Matamata and the preacher was preaching about the prodigal son.

Now, Miles is not a crier at all. I haven't seen him cry for years. Nor does he have much teenage angst as far as I know. He's a solid kiwi bloke, as they would say. He's pretty resilient, doesn't cry, doesn't get fazed by things and is generally quite happy.

The sermon wasn't even resonating with him, he told me later. He said "It was about the prodigal son, and I was thinking meh--" When suddenly he found himself breaking down into shoulder-heaving sobs.

He was wracked with sobs! Out of nowhere!

Worship began, and that was it. All Miles could do was look down and hold tightly to his Jesus Freak brown jumper which was scrunched up in a ball in his hands, and just let those tears loose. He COULD. NOT. STOP. 

His best friend, Toby, who had given his life to Jesus a few months ago, put his arm around him. Then their youth leader noticed and joined them like a midwife, catching this baby that was being born here. That youth leader gently told Miles "God is touching you".

"Do you want to give your life to Jesus?" he said.

Miles nodded.

Perfectly timed, an altar call then happened from the front, calling forward anyone who wanted to say yes to God. And that was it. Miles shot forward instantly. And his whole youth crowd of friends jumped up and down with joy from their seats.

Miles was the only kid amongst them who had his big moment with God that weekend, and so everyone made a fuss of it.

When I picked him up two days later, they all crowded around me and said, "Ann! Miles gave his life to the Lord!" My gorgeous boy grinned at me from across the carpark as I looked over at him in AMAZEMENT. I ran to him then and gave him the biggest cuddle.

"I'll drive home," he said. "You'll be too excited, you might crash."

LOL...

And did I tell Bryce? Teehee... Stay tuned for that part of the story, that's next.

Much love,

Ann


And So .... My Dream Came True. A Salvation Testimony.

My friends Mother's Day

My dream came true.

This is actually me, Ann, writing these words. Because one of my two children gave their life to Jesus two weeks ago now:

My son, Miles, who is 17.

... And ever since then I've been pinching myself.

I don't even know how to write about it, but I'm going to try. It is a HUGE deal. As a mother, it is the hugest of deals. And it is hard to convey that in writing.

But today, I will try to tell you about it, and all I can say is that it was all God's doing. 

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubabbel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubabbel you shall become a plain! (Zechariah 4:6-7, NKJV)

If it can happen to one this miraculously it will happen to the other two too. If it can happen to my son, it can happen to my husband. This thing is that miraculous.

Two years ago Miles started attending youth group and church with me, out of the blue. That was a miracle. Prior to then I had had zero success in getting any of my three family members to church and, quite honestly, I felt like a failure on that front. Even amongst those who are SUMites I always felt like I was the one doing the worst job!

Now, I shouldn't think that way, I know that, especially amongst you guys. I don't want you to think that way about yourselves either. Please don't! For God knows how hard this thing is. It's a lie: We are enough.

With that settled, here's the story:

I delighted that Miles had begun attending church with me, but for him the drawcard was really social. I could see that. I knew that he hadn't yet had his 'moment'. 

I bought him a Bible, and I wrote in the cover of it ... JF1

To Miles, from Mum and Dad, 1st April 2021.

Yes, I wrote the words 'from Mum and Dad', not just 'Mum'. Because.

But then the Bible proceeded to stay untouched on his bedside table for another TWO YEARS! I didn't move it, nor did he. When I'd go up to clean his room there it would be week after week gathering dust. 

At church, the young people made sweatshirts that had the words 'Jesus Freak' on them. They were hip and lively, these young people, all of them were wearing those sweatshirts. So Miles and I bought one each.

Here's Miles, during lockdown, wearing said sweatshirt with his brother and Dad. And then scroll down a bit further and you'll see another photo of Miles and me wearing them too. 

Honestly, even wearing those sweatshirts in front of Bryce took serious guts on my part. You get that, I know. 

So that's where we got to: Two years of church attendance together, Miles and I; yet I knew that he hadn't yet been convicted by God. I kept it pretty easygoing: On the days he wanted to sleep in I made the choice not to push him at all. I also didn't verbalize to him what he *needed* to be doing spiritually.

I played it as cool as I have done with Bryce: Gently, gently does it with a teenager, just like with a husband.

Truthfully, it was actually too hard for me to say anything to him. The issue was too intense for me, just like it's been with Bryce. JF2

So the months raced by, and then we came to a baptism event a few weeks ago where two of Miles' young friends got baptized. The whole church gathered to watch the baptisms of those two young people, myself included. But a part of me battled difficult feelings. Out of love I deliberately celebrated those other teens and their spiritual 'success', but it was hard that my own child wasn't the one in the baptismal pool.

I stood and held my phone out to record the prayers that were spoken over those two teens that afternoon so I could send them to them later.

And God said back:

Look after My house and I'll look after yours.

Well, everything happens according to God's perfect timing.

My friends, I will continue the wonderful story on Monday. Be assured that what came next only God could have done. And for your part, thank you for joining in and listening to my story.

Ann


Lynn Donovan Here with a Few Things

Hi SUM Nation,

Lynn Donovan here. Hope you had an amazing Easter. Mike asked me if he could attend church with me on Saturday. He said he would like to attend as long as it wasn't the early service. GRIN     WAHOO!!

My friends, I sat in service and was astounded by the pastor's message. For the first time that I can remember on an Easter Sunday, the full message of what happened to Jesus from the Last Supper to the Resurrection was told. This is significant for several reasons. One, the Resurrection story is FILLED, I MEAN COMPLETELY FILLED UP WITH SUPERNATURAL OCCURANCES. The death to life thing comes to mind. But, because so many visitors attend on an Easter Sunday, most pastors like to introduce Jesus as the compassionate, healing and life-changing Savior. AND He IS all of that.

But what makes the resurrection story compelling is the telling of how, in the middle of the day, Jerusalem went dark. Because when he died, darkness filled the land. Utter, bitter darkness devoid of all hope. Then the most important place in the Temple the Veil, that separated God from humanity, supernaturally ripped in two, top to bottom.

AND my friends, rocks split apart. The land was rocked by an earthquake and then DEAD PEOPLE arose from the cemetery and went into town and visited with people. 

It is a fantastic story. The audience went wild. Our church experienced 26 baptisms on Friday night at the Good Friday service. I happened to prophetically paint that night. The painting is below. Please notice the beam of light shining upon the head of Jesus. I did NOT paint that and the sunlight was coming in from the opposite direction. I can't explain how a perfect the beam of light is on the Christ. It's a supernatural thing.

GOD IS DOING SOMETHING IN OUR LIFETIME. It's bigger than we know or can expect. Hold on to your hat. Claim your family for the Kingdom of God. Pray and ask for greater faith and belief because we are heading into something the world hasn't seen in over 2,000 years.

Hallelujah!!  

So, what say you? Want to be part of it? Pray the prayer and then say AMEN in the comments. I'll join your faith and let's bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. 

Hugs, and blessings, Lynn

Father, in the name of Jesus, DO NOT pass me by. I want to experience everything that your death and resurrection have provided to me and my family. I will not sit back in fear. I have the Holy Spirit and the Wisdom of Heaven to guide and protect me. I want to see the miraculous. I want to pray and watch you heal people. I will be a disciple that casts out demons and brings freedom to many. I stand upon your truth, your word and the power of the Atonement. In Your Mighty name, Jesus. AMEN

The Son April 9 2023


Sorry, What Did You Just Say??

By Ann Hutchison You prepare a table for me

Friends, have you ever had a moment in your SUM when your spouse says something that makes you stop in your tracks, because it shows something has shifted?

They say something, and you think to yourself 'Sorry, what did you just say??'

Well, something like that happened to me this week.

Bryce and I have a couple in our life whom we've known for decades: Bryce grew up in church with the guy and has known him all his life. They live in a different part of the city to us so we see them rarely, but they are Christian.

Because Bryce grew up with this guy, it is normal to bring God, church, and faith into the conversation when we are together, and those sorts of conversations happen reasonably naturally. 

Anyway, on Saturday night this couple came over. Chat chat chat, we went, enjoying catching up. Then it was time to make coffee for everyone, so I left the table to go into the kitchen round the corner. As I did so I heard the guy saying something to Bryce about "Satan...." 

Now, for someone who struggles to believe, it's one leap to believe in God, but it's a whole other thing to believe in Satan. And Bryce, though growing up in church, never really believed as a teenager, so this whole thing has been a long road from teenagehood to now. "Ridiculous", I could picture him thinking. Ridiculous.

Still, I kinda grinned as I poured that coffee, thinking "Ah well, it wasn't me who raised it."

We waved goodbye to our friends eventually and looked forward to seeing them again in another six months or so. 

The next day, I noticed Bryce had headphones on while he pottered around the house doing DIY. "What are you listening to?" I asked. He told me he was listening to a particular radio host who challenges popular mindsets in today's society. Bryce has taken an interest in listening to this radio host recently.

All day he had those headphones on. I watched, affectionately. But here's where the moment came:

That night in bed he started talking to me about something this radio host had said, challenging a popular view about something. He was intrigued by seeing that so many people had a false belief about something (I can't remember what) yet they followed the crowd. And then, out of the blue, he said this:

"Satan stops people from seeing truth."

Sorry, what???

I raised my eyes and pulled a stunned face in the dark. Then a most relaxed comment seemed to come out of my mouth so naturally and calmly that perhaps it was the Holy Spirit. I said:

"Yes, Satan does use a lot of different techniques to distract people from God."

At that, my husband nodded and mm-hmmed in agreement.

I lay there in the dark after that thinking "What just happened there?!" This comment of my husband's was a new step. He had just expressed something that meant we weren't so misaligned in our beliefs. 

Having reflected on this, I note that we do have many of these sorry, what??' moments as a community. I can remember so many times that someone here at SUM has shared a moment like this - A moment of wonder. Each time it happens we know that it is a sign that something has shifted. 

Amazing.

One final note: As I was writing this post it occured to me to use a photo I had downloaded a few years ago. A photo of a dinner table. When I found it I saw that I'd labelled it 'You prepare a table for me,' from Psalm 23. Well, I can say this story speaks to me of that verse most ironically, and so here is that verse for us today --

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows (Psalm 23:5, KJV).

My friends, hope you liked that story. Have you had a similar moment you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear in the comments!

Ann

 


Today I Can Boldly Approach

My friends, Ann here. Boldly I approach

In this community we have times in this blog where we pause deliberately and turn our faces to JESUS. 

That is our lifeline -- Our way of surviving some of the intense things we face in a spiritually mismatched marriage.

Jesus.

Well, one way of fixing our eyes on him is to commemorate important markers in the year. We have the Christian liturgical calendar that formed in the early centuries of the church. That calendar helped early Christians commemorate the life and message of Jesus. Lent and Advent, for example, are helpful seasons there.

But then there are the Jewish holidays detailed in the Old Testament (e.g., Exodus 12, Leviticus 23), and these days symbolized what was to come. Oh, how I love those. When I look at those days I also see 'Jesus' all over them.

Today is the Day of Atonement, known as Yom Kippur by the Jews. It is all about Jesus. So I thought we could look at some aspects of that today:

The Day of Atonement, described in Leviticus 16, was a day given to the Israelites by God when they were in the wilderness, after they left Egypt, and they were told to keep it forever. It occurs once a year, and on this day the High Priest, Aaron (Moses' brother), enters the tabernacle and sacrifices a series of burnt offerings, first to clean himself, and then to 'atone' for all the people. 

Atone: To make reparation or amends as for injury done; reconcile.

There were some extensive rituals prescribed for Aaron here. One of those things was he was to put his hand on a goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and then release it into the wilderness.

Another is that he goes alone into the tabernacle to offer the burnt sacrifices, and no other man is present. That speaks very much of the aloneness of what Jesus did.

If you have the energy, you might like to read the account of the Day of Atonement today, and see Jesus in it? It's in Leviticus 16:1-34, and it is richly symbolic.

For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.

And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father's place, shall make atonement (Leviticus 16:30 & 32, NKJV)

So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins (v. 16)

My friends, as I read the above today, I thought how grateful I am, and thought "Jesus was a high priest who was human like me, like Aaron. He knows exactly what he's interceding for on my behalf. I do not have a high priest who can't sympathize with all my weaknesses, problems and things I'm tempted by".

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:14-16, NKJV).

If we know the above passage, we likely know what comes next: We can therefore boldly approach the throne of grace in our times of need, to find mercy from God.

Thank you, Jesus.

With that in mind, here's a beautiful worship song that speaks of that ability we have to approach God because of what our high priest, Jesus, did on the cross.

Love to you all,

Ann

 


A Child of an Unequally Yoked Marriage: Part One

We're privileged today to have a guest post from fellow SUMite, Betty Higginbotham. Betty is going to share her testimony of growing up in an unequally yoked home - And, wow, what a testimony. 

The testimony will be in two parts -- Part one today, and part two on Wednesday. Now, over to Betty -- Betty Higginbotham

"First I want everyone to understand what you see is not what will be. It will be what God says. Nothing less. Never ever stop praying for your children. Never give up and ALWAYS cover them in the blood of Jesus. As I tell my story of a child growing up in an unequally yoked marriage, pay attention to things that did not happen. I'll explain later.

I was the youngest daughter of five, born to a Spirit-filled praying mother. One who never lied to me and always told me basic need-to-know details of what was happening in the spirit realm of my life. My father was as good as gold. A wonderful man who did whatever it took to make sure his family was fed. Until he drank. He was an alcoholic. It took over most of his very being. He tried hard to fight his personal demons to no avail, he always lost. He would curse God. He was abusive to my mother but for some reason I was protected.

As a very little girl he would take me to bars. Back then it wasn't uncommon. I would drink cokes and eat chips while he visited and flirted. Mother would let me go for two reasons. 1. He came home earlier than normal. 2. He wouldn't drink whiskey thus no physical harm to her would be done. She told me one time "I always cover you in the blood." I quickly learned to do as Mom says, do as Dad says, do as sis says and just keep everyone pleased. It’ll be ok then. So I became a people pleaser.

I remember when I was around 8 years old, I must have passed out, unresponsive. I was taken to the hospital, and tests were run to find nothing. When I woke and Mother and I were leaving she looked me in the eyes, saying: "They are battling for your life but satan can't have you".

Mother always took me to church. She was so faithful to God and his house. When I was 12 years old I received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I was in bed asleep one night, my bed facing two windows on each side of one wall with a box fan in the left window. A very real greyish/green image crawled through my window and fan, touching and shaking my right big toe speaking to me saying "Get up! Get up Betty! Come with me". I sprung up standing on my bed shouting "Rebuke! In the name of Jesus. Now go!" It quickly fled. My mother standing in the doorway said "do you know what you did?" I answered yes. This is where the real battle begins.

At the age of 14 we finally left my father, moving states away, in with my oldest sister and her family. At this point I felt I belonged nowhere. On either side. I was quickly introduced to drugs and alcohol for myself. It escalated so fast. My 'friends' did it so here I was, pleasing them by joining in. This new introduction led to a date rape by my boyfriend. This was before date rape was a spoken thing. He broke up with me after that. I tried overdosing on my mother’s pills. In the ER they pumped my stomach to find nothing. Not one piece of evidence that I had just swallowed over a hundred little pills. (See what God did there?)

I moved back to my home state in with a friend and her family just before age 15 and rekindled a somewhat relationship with my father. It was ok. This family protected me from much of his alcoholism.

At age 18 I met the man I would marry. Still a people pleaser, I forgot everything to create a life with him. With a stepdaughter and three of our own we had a beautiful unsaved family" ... 

That's where we pause the story, and Betty will continue on Wednesday. 

Hi. I am Betty Higginbotham from Southwest Louisiana where I work as a geriatric nurse. I have been a believer all my life but I have known Christ for the last 10 years. I am 53 years old and have been married for 34 years with 4 beautiful daughters.


A Singing Spouse

My friends, I said I had another story to tell today .. Story

On Monday we were talking about the fact you can be blessed by having a memorable conversation with a stranger: When you visit a church, or when someone visits your church.

A few weeks ago that happened to me. A pair of girls in their twenties arrived in our church and were hanging around the coffee table, so up to them I went.

We had a great chat, and somewhere in the conversation we asked each other what we did for jobs.

When asked that, I usually tell people about the SUM ministry, and that always leads to some conversation. "Oh! Never thought of that!" most people say.

Well, on this occasion one of the girls said, "Oh, yeah, I know what that looks like. My Mum and Dad were in that situation."

"Oh really?"

"Yes. Mum went to church but Dad didn't, for quite a few years. Then one day he went to church, and in the service he got ... um... what's the word... exorcised."

"Delivered!" 

"Delivered, that's it."

Yep, we don't normally talk about edgy things like deliverance at a church coffee stand, hence the funny terminology. But, meanwhile I was thinking, "Amazing. Curious. I want to hear more."

She continued --

"From that moment on he was over the top into Jesus. He overtook everybody in his enthusiasm, including my Mum, and now all he talks about is Jesus."

"Wow, that's wonderful!" I said, feeling the joy of this situation. But she rolled her eyes in a dry British way (she's British), "Well, actually, he became quite annoying with it."

An unbelieving spouse becoming annoying about their faith? Can we just enjoy that thought for a minute, LOL. "Why was he annoying?" I was laughing by now.

"Because it was ALL he talked about. And every morning he'd be in the bathroom, booming out songs about Jesus in a loud baritone singing voice."

Now this gave me the giggles. The thought of any unbelieving husband booming out songs about Jesus in a baritone voice? What a priceless picture. In fact, I kept getting the giggles all week after that Sunday conversation, every time I thought about it.

What a blessed conversation it was. And all I can say is, we live in hope!

Dear SUMites, I hope that brought a smile to your face, and here's a prayer --

Jesus, we do pray that our spouses will sing about you! We pray they will belt out songs, loud and proud, unashamed of your Gospel, and we pray for more good stories like this to keep our joy levels up. Thank you, Jesus! Amen.


Blessed by Visiting a Church

Ann here, 
ah how good it is to be back! I arrived safely back in New Zealand after my holiday, and am so happy to be chatting with you all again - team SUM! Story

I truly had a good time in England, visiting my parents, attending my brother's wedding, and catching up with old friends. But I want to share with you one of my favorite things that happened from a spiritual point of view. In fact, it's the kind of story that makes angels sing (Luke 15:10) :--

One Sunday, I visited my Mum's church in Reading (a town in south England). A man in his seventies sat behind us. He was whispering the name Jesus under his breath and I could feel his enthusiasm during the service, as you can sometimes.

He then got up towards the end of the service, and gave a testimony from the front about a miraculous thing that happened to him as a teenager, when he wasn't a believer. Clearly it hadn't been planned, but the pastor gave him space to do it.

After the service I turned round to this man, grinned, and shook his hand, "Hello." "Hello", he smiled back, eyes sparkling. Then, leaning forward as if confiding, he said: "I just had to give that testimony because I knew there are at least three men here today who don't yet know the Lord. I hoped it would impact them."

"Ohh!" I said, "Are they husbands of believing wives?"

"They are!" his eyes gleamed. "They've only been coming a few months, each of them." Pause. 

"And are you a Christian?" he asked, in the most gentle way. I beamed: "Sure am." 

"Are you married?" He said. 

"I am! And, actually my husband is still deciding about it all. He doesn't yet come to church with me."

"Ahh, I thought you were going to say that. I know what that's like for your husband: My wife became a Christian before me, and I wasn't a believer for a while, although she was."

Really? I glanced towards his wife who was happily talking to my Mum down the row, then back to him. 

"So what happened, how did you change your mind?"

"Well.... First of all I spent time with some of her Christian friends, and realized they had something I didn't. I didn't know what to do with that. Then, about two years later I went to a Christmas event one day, went forward and accepted Jesus. That was the first step. After that it still took a while for it to become relevant to me. I had a lot of questions. Eventually I had a moment where I did surrender myself fully and got filled with the Holy Spirit."

I soaked all this up, as I always do when I hear a salvation story of a SUM kind, and as we talked further I saw he was a man of deep understanding. I was interested to hear that his story came in layers; it was a process.

As our conversation reached a natural pause he finished with this: "I was about to open a nightclub, then I became Christian!" he said, laughing. "My whole life changed!"

I laughed back, and looked over to his wife once more, thinking as always of our SUM community.

Later, I looked out of the window as Mum drove us home. As a visitor, I'd been blessed by walking through that church's doors. I reflected that all kinds of things happen to us when we enter the doors of a church: Sometimes we're the ones to bless others, but sometimes we receive. That conversation with that man spurred me on for days afterwards.

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10, NIV)

My friends, have you had a moment where you visited a church and were deeply blessed? Or were you blessed by a memorable conversation with a visitor?

Next time I want to share another short story of a similar kind. It's one that I hope will make you laugh -- For God loves us to laugh. Tune in for the next one!

Love you all,

Ann


Some Rather Amazing Salvation Stories

Let's Talk Live

Ann here! As I've been travelling, I won't be doing a live video this week, but will be back again next week at the usual time.

While having this break, I wanted to catch you up on three of our recent videos that have had a stunning theme: Surprise salvations.

In the first two videos below, Lynn shared about some salvations that recently happened in her own personal life. And, in the third one SUMite Barb Twigg shared the same kind of story. Is there something in the air at the moment?! 

They are such good stories, and I know they will encourage you. So, with that, I'll leave you with the three videos to dip into. Enjoy.

Ann

 


Miracle Salvations, Impossible Salvations, Supernatural Salvations

On Wednesday, August 3rd at 3 pm, on Let's Talk LIVE, I'm going to share a salvation story that happened in my own living room. This story has a component of the supernatural and Holy Spirit. And what appeared to be a person totally against faith.

You will want to tune in and hear this story. Because my testimony opens the door for the salvation of those you think are impossible.

I can't wait. 

You can find the broadcast at Spiritually Unequal Marriage Facebook Page, Group, and on the YouTube page.

We are going to laugh, cry, live in awe and praise our Lord Jesus. See you then. Hugs, Lynn


Yvonne Swarbrick Salvation Testimony

We were sent this amazing story of how one husband turned to Jesus after many years of his wife waiting. We are so grateful to Yvonne Swarbrick for sharing it -- it is her story. Read, meet Yvonne, and be encouraged:Yvonne

"I became a Christian in 1985 , the Lord had been calling me a long time because I could trace back through my life when I had tried to find Him. I wasn’t aware I was searching for Him till I found him and a lot of people realize this after they become Christians.

I watched a program on TV called This is The Day one Sunday morning. Me and my two daughters were getting ready for a birthday party on a canal boat, it was a Sunday. In the program there was a short sketch of the crucifixion. The tv was on in the background and I only glanced at it but it got my attention like it always does when I watch the crucifixion.

We got ready to go out and I couldn’t stop thinking all day about what I’d seen on that program. I remember as we walked down the street I felt as if something was happening to me.

That night when I got home I searched the house for a Bible. I found one but couldn’t make any sense of it. The next day I went to the library and found a book in the beliefs section called 'New Life, New Lifestyle'. I stayed up that night very late and read the whole book. There was a prayer in the middle of the book about giving your life to God and asking him to come in. I prayed the prayer and went to bed thinking nothing had happened, but as the days went by I realized I was changing.

My outlook on life changed, I had this thirst to read the Bible, I had this love in me I’d never had before. I was bursting with joy and I drove everyone around me mad.

Three months after we found out my hubby Ray had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We'd had no idea up till then there was anything wrong. They told us not to worry and take things a day at a time. Boy was I brought back down to earth! We were in shock, I knew how bad MS could get. I knew a lady that was seriously disabled with it and I immediately thought of her. I was angry with God at first but eventually I realized He had come to my rescue. Ray would have been diagnosed and I would have felt worse if the Lord hadn’t come in to my life.

I tried to tell my hubby about the Lord but he didn’t get it. He didn’t say he was an atheist he was more of an agnostic like I had been. My friends at church encouraged me to start praying for him so I did.
Our daughters were 3 and 5, it was a busy time and we just tried to carry on as positively as possible.
Seven years later when our eldest daughter was 12 she was diagnosed with type-one diabetes and we nearly lost her as she was rushed into hospital in an emergency.

They stabilized her and she had to learn to inject herself. It felt traumatic again. More stress. I ended up with depression and anxiety. Trying to cope with my hubby deteriorating in front of me and now my daughter. Then on top of that I had Christians saying you shouldn’t get depressed as a Christian. I have since learnt a lot about anxiety and depression.

In 1996 we had to have some alterations done and moved out of the house. Ray went into a disabled unit at the hospital while it was done and we stayed with friends.

When I visited him one night he said "I think I will come to church on Sunday with you" and I was amazed! It came suddenly right out of the blue, I’d had a word from someone saying it would happen suddenly. I couldn’t believe it! I had been praying for twelve years and others alongside me. 

Ray came to church that Sunday and gave his life to the Lord. It all seemed to happen so fast. I saw him change in front of me, he became alive like he’d never been before. His whole face changed, his smile changed. He started singing in the car with me and he’d never sang in all the years I’d known him!

We became intimate on a different level, we had eye contact we’d never had before and we’d been married 26 years! Then he said he wanted to renew our marriage vows as Christians, it was so beautiful. We had our ceremony and he told the congregation that he was happier than he had ever been in his life even though he was in a wheelchair with MS.  We were on cloud nine, we fell in love all over again, it was a most wonderful time.

We had a few years of feeling blissful but the disease got worse and worse. We both got a bit beaten down with it. He retreated back into his cave and I think he was protecting me. It became harder to get him to church. I was really disappointed because I thought the Lord was going to heal him. And then we got another diagnosis of leukaemia, it was a leukaemia you could have treatment for so he started the treatment.

That was another devastating blow but we held onto God and hoped the treatment would work. He did very well, he lasted six years after the diagnosis. He died in 2016, not healed but healed spiritually and he’s with the Lord now.

I was disappointed and confused because I really believed God was going to heal him, because of the transformation of God entering his life and seeing the massive change.

But the most important thing is that he found the Lord, he had joy for a few years and I hope that made up for all the pain he went through. 

I’m writing this to encourage anyone that’s praying for their hubby. Keep praying and don’t give up. I never thought it would happen. One thing I didn’t share was someone gave me a word a long time before he got saved. They said "love him into the kingdom so I tried my best." I didn’t always manage it though! God bless all you ladies and men out there.

Yvonne Swarbrick became a Christian in 1985, she has two daughters aged 42 and 40 and three grandsons aged between 10 and 14. Now retired, she spends her time singing in a gospel choir, which she loves, and doing art, especially painting with watercolors, as well as other crafts. She recently found our community and was keen to share this part of her testimony with us.


Up Coming Events

Hey SUMites!  

Lynn Donovan here. While Ann is traveling, I'm going to pop in and take the reins for a few weeks. So here is what I have planned.

First, on Wednesday, August 3rd at 3 pm pacific time, I'm LIVE on Facebook and YouTube to talk about some miraculous salvations. This talk is to explain what happened and how after 30-year friendship, Jesus shows up. AND the Holy Spirit went wild. It's a fantastic and unbelievable story that includes the supernatural.

The following Wednesday, August 10th, I have another salvation story that still blows my mind. I'm sharing these stories because they release hope into your life for the salvations you are waiting for. YOU WILL BE IN AWE! Because Jesus is on the move and He uses ordinary people, like us!  

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! DON'T MISS IT!

Book of James GraphicNext Ann, Martha Bush, and I will be leading a LIVE video teaching of the Book of James. This book is all about Practical Faith. You MUST have this down to advance into greater faith practices. After this teaching, you should be able to teach this book at your church, home group, your kids, etc. More details ahead. Begins second week of September. And it will include homework. Ya, it takes work to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! 

You will be blessed. I promise.

 

Additionally, I'm pondering about doing some live teaching through Lynndonovan.com regarding healing. Physical healing that comes from Christ. I'm still pondering about when, how and if I have the capacity to handle all of this while still settling into our new home. 

I wanted to share with all of you one of the great blessings that Father has given to me in our new home. 

I love nature. And here where I live the deer roam the streets, nearly unafraid of humans. 

The other evening, I was walking from the kitchen toward our bedroom and happened to glance outside our dining room window toward the front yard. 

This is what I saw:

Doe at Window July 2022

A doe resting under the tree, eating her cud. She stared at me. I at her. I smiled. 

I'm so thankful that Father has provided this haven for Mike and myself. A lifetime of faithfulness is seen in His goodness.

Hugs, Lynn 


Nothing is Impossible -- A Testimony

Ann here,

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

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

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


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

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

The Silent Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


'Preaching' the Gospel -- To a Spouse?

Hi everyone, it's Ann here and I hope you've had a good weekend! Gospel

Today we'll start with these words of Jesus to his then-disciples: 

“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (Mark 16:15, NLT) 

"Yes, Lord", we say to that, as modern-day disciples. "In whatever way you want us to do that, here we are!" 

Yet, as a partner of an unbelieving spouse, anything to do with conveying the Gospel in our homes is far easier said than done. 

It fascinates me to look at some of the evangelists out there who have a special grace for leading people to the Lord. What a gift! A well-known example was Billy Graham, of course, who led large events. But an evangelist will also be particularly skilled at leading people to Jesus in one-on-one conversations. If this is their calling, they will live and breathe this purpose. 

Over here in Auckland I happen to know three evangelists and I watch them curiously. Two are paid ministers, and one is a guy from my past church who has a day job in I.T. but for his vacations he'll fly to refugee camps in far-flung places where he leads people to the Lord. Looking at these three I can say they have a particularly strong urge to get people across the line, they are skilled at putting the Gospel into words, and they are less fearful of rejection than the rest of us.

We need these skilled men and women -- Ministers of the Gospel -- and they're a really important branch of ministry. But perhaps why we need them the most is they can equip us, and I'm going to return to that idea in a later post.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11-12, NIV)

Now, while the evangelists are busy leading people to the Lord in droves, we have something entirely different -- but similar -- going on: We have one spouse to win over and it seems we cannot!! Like the evangelists, we have the burning urge in us to get this happening. Yet, we can barely verbalize the Gospel to our spouse. What's more, many of our spouses have already heard the Gospel from the pulpit and said a mental 'No.' As people do.

This makes our version of evangelistic work one of high intensity. But Jesus cares about the one (Luke 15:8-10), and so do we. We care so much, in fact, that the salvation of this one spouse is our deepest desire.

It's as if we hold a precious one penny in our hands, our spouse being the one penny that Jesus wants to save. Somehow in the course of our marriage we will repeatedly sediment the Gospel into our spouse's heart. But when I say 'repeatedly', it could be a decades-long project. I personally am prepared for that now. I wasn't a few years ago. Penny

This scripture here reminds us to keep going:

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:13-14)

In other translations the word 'preaching' is replaced with 'publishing'. In its Biblical usage the word is used to describe John the Baptist and Jesus, proclaiming the Gospel in synagogues and out on the street. 

In the SUM home, however, 'preaching' looks different. It might involve sharing (or even debating) a particular facet of the 'Gospel' during conversation. But mostly it's living it out. 

In any case, we will keep going with this task. I cheer you on, and I know you cheer me on -- And hey, we will roll up our sleeves and do this hard thing!

Let's keep chatting in the comments, but here's a question I'm curious about: Do you think your spouse has actually heard the Gospel?

Ann


Alissa Berglund Salvation Testimony

This week one of our dear SUMites, Alissa Berglund, sent us the following story. This was one of the salvation testimonies we heard of a few weeks ago behind the scenes, and since then Alissa has been writing it up, knowing just how much it will encourage us all. We're so happy for her, and thank you, Alissa, for sharing it!

***

Alissa and AndyMy story is typical, I was raised in a Christian home, accepted Christ early on, started out in my prodigal years in my late teens, married my pre-believing husband in my 20's (hoping he was, but knowing deep down he wasn't saved), had kids, and shortly after God called me back to him. In the fall of 2014, I returned to my faith, and this is where I start my story of being spiritually mis-matched.

After returning to Christ, I tried in my own strength to save my husband. But my efforts were futile, created strife and life got hard fast. Andy didn't want to hear about my faith and in-fact he told me he was agnostic. I had never felt lonelier and more abandoned in what had previously a strong and close marriage. Despite Andy's resistance, he still came to church with me and the kids, his reasoning... "If my family is going, then that's where I want to be". I began to pray and believe Romans 10:17 "So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ". I believed that one day this verse would come true for him.

In 2016 I discovered the SUM community, and it was balm to my soul!! Finally, a group of people who knew what I was going through. I had church friends that tried to sympathize, but unless you are walking through it you just don't know, am I right??

There were moments were Andy engaged more with God and I thought, this it! He's going to put his hand up during an alter call... and then he wouldn't. But despite that, I kept praying, and putting my hope in Jesus that at the perfect time he would awaken Andy and he would believe.

In 2019 I attended the SUM conference hosted by Lynn. I had the most encouraging time, met so many women who filled my cup. God did amazing things, and I came home inspired again to reach Andy, and then we entered the election season, the pandemic, and the civil unrest in our community. Life turned up-side-down.

Going into 2020 and now 2021, between discussions on politics, racial tensions, the pandemic, trying to distance learn our kids, and just hold it all together Andy's heart was gripped by fear and despair, not knowing what truth was or how to find it. It made my husband even harder to reach for Jesus. We talked at-length about how it was that I was able to stay centered and confident in what I knew truth to be, but it always came back to Jesus, and he didn't like that answer.

In late spring of 2021 Andy really started to dig for truth on has favorite platform Tik-Tok. I started to pray over his media asking God to have him "stumble" upon Christian influencers that might cause him to question who Jesus is. Lo and behold it started to happen. Our conversations began to be different we started taking more about who Jesus was, but he still was operating in fear.

At no point did I have any inkling that God was doing something in his heart, but on June 12, 2021, while driving to our family fishing trip Andy gave his heart to Jesus in the car. I of course was driving separately and had no idea what was transpiring until we pulled over for a pit-stop and he pulled me into a hug and told me he had given his heart to the Lord. After nearly 18 years of marriage, and the last 7 being some of the hardest and loneliest God in his perfect timing revealed himself to Andy and he was saved.

It wasn’t an alter call or a big ado… In Andy’s words God “woke him up” and once he saw the truth, he couldn’t deny it.

I am here to encourage you, that God IS doing things in our spouse’s heart that you can’t even fathom. He is a way-maker, miracle worker…. Even when we can’t see it.  

As I’ve walked this road for so long as a SUM, God is now working to re-define my purpose and identity as a wife of a believer. Do not give up… If God called Noah to build a boat for over 100 years, he is calling you to pray and believe for your spouse for as long as it takes.

***

I'm Alissa Berglund from Lakeville Minnesota. My husband Andy and I have been married nearly 18 years and we have two boys, James and Micah who are 9 and 8 years old. 


The Ice Cream Van

Hi again dear SUMites Ice cream van

I said in my last post that the Holy Spirit had given us two playful pictures to hold at the moment. The first one I described in the last post. The second one I'm sharing today.

We are children to Jesus, and sometimes he will use playful analogies with us. What he seems to be saying to us today is this:

The way I am moving in the SUM community is like an ice-cream van.

My friends, does it mean anything to you yet? Perhaps you can see it instantly, but I couldn't. I needed a bit of help from him.

This is the fun of the Holy Spirit. He tells us something. We realize we have no idea what it means. He then gives us the interpretation when we ask for it - POW! And that's how we know it was him. 

Yep, this is how it went. Having pondered the symbol of ice cream van unsuccessfully for a day or so, I just could not figure it out. So I asked the Holy Spirit for help. 

Instantly it came:

What I am doing in the SUM community is like an ice cream van. The three testimonies you have seen are the sound of the music starting. You can hear the whisper of it, it's faint but it is a definite and clear sound in the air. You wonder if it will come to your street. You dearly hope that you will not miss out. But I am good! It's coming to you. You will not miss out. Get ready for the goodies!

With a word like this, God will often give us confirmation. In this case, so that I could be brave enough to write this he told me this: I've told you about an ice cream van before, go and look it up.

Yes, he had. I remember I had heard him say 'Ice cream van' before (That was all, just 'ice cream van', hilarious!! I could have thought I was hallucinating, but I did write it down .. Perhaps because I've been learning that hearing God speak can sometimes be a bit of a weird experience!)  Thankfully because I had written it down I could pull out my phone and search in the diary app I use for such records. 'Ice cream van', I typed ... And there it was. It was the week of the January 2019 fast. Just like the vision of the cloths that I described in the previous post. Two stories from God when we were fasting back in January 2019. Two stories from God about what we have just experienced.  Salvation testimonies. And more to come.

I even love the fact we fasted together, he gave the words then ... But they have come to life now. I suppose that's the way God works ... It's also perhaps a little nod to the fact that he honors our fasting.

Finally ... The analogy of a SUM ice cream van is such a sweet one. I guess, after all, we are his kids.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14, NIV)

Be encouraged, everyone, and have a great weekend!

Ann


God Says: 'Watch My Promises -- 123!'

Dear friends, Ann here. Cloths number 2

After we had  1 ... 2... 3... spouse-salvation 'events' last week, I've been praying about what to write about now. "What on earth do I write, Lord?" I guess I'm keeping an open mind, and my typing hands are at the ready. 

After asking that question I did receive two things from the Holy Spirit. They're unexpectedly playful things ... Two little stories of sweetness for us. I'm going to post one today, and the other on Friday. So, settle in and enjoy.

Both words come in the form of a story, and they both happen to have occurred back in January 2019 during our annual community fast, which is interesting.

So, let's step back to that week, in January 2019. We were fasting together as we do each year, Lynn was leading it powerfully, and I remember we had good conversations in the comments. My family and I also happened to be holiday in Japan during this particular fast .. So that added an element of color and memorability to the week.

Anyway, day three rolled around (aggh, hungry!) and as I woke that morning God gave me a set of three visions in a row. I grabbed my phone which was beside my bed, and blearily wrote them down. Here were the three (123!):

First, I saw a set of cloths, little folded cloths. Lots and lots .. and lots .. of little cloths. A set of little folded cloths, loads and loads, piles.

Second, I saw an absolute downpour of rain hitting the very place where I was fasting. And the words "1 2 3".

And third, I saw a man who was definitely and deliberately not a Christian falling to his knees very quickly and dramatically.

Cloths

It made no sense to me whatsoever, until later that day when were in a department store and there -- Lo and behold -- were the cloths I saw!

Well, blow me down. I literally jumped up and down, pointing at the cloths, thinking "Those are the cloths I saw!" Of course I had no-one to tell. So, I joyfully had my little God moment there in the flannel/towel department of this Japanese department store.

And of course, what made it particularly striking was the fact that not only was it piles of cloths. The top pile had the numbers 1 ... 2 ... 3 on it.

We need another photo of said cloths, so here's another. Cloths 3

So now here's what God said to me about these three visions, confirmed by the cloths:

The cloths that you photographed here, with '1 2 3' on top, represent the 1, 2, 3 men you've just seen turn. Those who were not aligned with Christ, but they have surrendered. Suddenly.

After that there'll be more ... 8, 9, 10, 11 (see the photo) ... and then more. A full array. A set.

Colourful, customized. Each cloth representing a spouse, and what I am going to do for them.

There is the sound of the abundance of rain; you do see a cloud the size of a man's hand, and a downpour is coming. 

Watch my promises! 

My friends, that is God's heart for our community as best as I can convey it, using a sweet story of cloths in a Japanese department store (so quirky, but how delicious). I don't know the timeframe, but I do believe that -- in principle -- we can walk in hope, and we can be excited about what's to come.

I know that sometimes these things have layers, so if there is anything else of meaning that you see in the cloths and the visions I shared, please do share -- That's how hearing from God works. We weigh and test, we might receive a word but it's often just part of the picture ... And we can enjoy the process while we do it. 

Much love,

Ann


I see a cloud the size of a man's hand

Hi SUM family, Ann here. Singing

Whew, it’s been an exciting week with us hearing about two spouses’ salvations in one week. If you missed those you can catch up here and here.

Well, unbelievably, there’s more! No sooner had I uploaded Monday's post about a second salvation than I got a message from another SUM friend (a local friend): Unbelievably, her husband had just responded to an altar call this past Sunday at church. 

Three in one week.

Are you pulling the same stunned face as me, I wonder?

All I could do then is play the song ‘God is on the Move’ on repeat in my living room and do some serious (uncool, Mum-looking) dancing in celebration. My teenage son, Miles, sauntered down the stairs midway through. He looked at me, smirked, shook his head, and walked on into the kitchen to get himself some toast.

So funny!

Anyway, somewhere in amongst this extreme excitement, God gave me a scripture. He said, “Go and look at the passage where Elijah prays seven times before he sees a small cloud.”

So I did; and I wondered what I would see. I suppose it’s one of those stories I’d read a few times so perhaps felt ‘old’. The thing is, scripture is so full of treasure it’s never old. I should have known better and, sure enough, I saw something brand new this time.

The story of Elijah’s cloud is in 1 Kings 18:41-46, and it goes like this: There has been a desperate drought in Israel, but then Elijah proclaims to the King that rain is coming. He says to the king, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the abundance of rain." In other words, "You don’t need to worry about stashing up food any more, I promise you the rain is coming!"

Truly, I feel this way about the spouses in our community. Impossible as it seems, we can know something is coming in the spirit before we see it in the natural. It's just ... There's perseverance first.

Elijah went to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” (1 Kings 18:42-43, NKJV)

Seven times, nothing.

Isn't that just like the prayer for our spouses? We pray. Nothing. Nothing. Oh, and nothing. Nothing? Nope, nothing. Nothing. Can’t see any sign of my spouse turning…. Years pass …. Nothing.

Shall I say that again for effect? Here we go, six 'nothings': Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Ok, I now hereby sign and seal this thing as officially impossible. That's not to say it won't happen; it's just it's an impossible thing that needs God. We all look at each other, nod our heads, agreeing and understanding that it will take a miracle the size of the red sea parting. 

Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” (v. 44)

I wonder if even Elijah, let alone his companion, couldn't quite believe what he was seeing, even though he had sensed it in the spirit. After all, 'We're in a drought!'

So, with all that in mind, here's what just happened for us this past week:

One man’s hand goes up in surrender, ‘I say yes to Jesus’.

Another man’s hand goes up in surrender, ‘I say yes to Jesus’.

And a third man’s hand goes up in response to an altar call.

Oh, it's a cloud 'the size of a man’s hand' rising from the sea! A sign. A sign of more to come. We don't know how or when, but yes. More will come.

I am smiling here, and with that I’ll sign off for the weekend. Lynn will be here on Monday. In the meantime, for your pleasure here's 'God is on the Move'!

 


And ... Another Spouse's Salvation!

My friends, Ann here. Do it again!

It seems that it's 'miracle week' here at SUM. How amazing God is, and I can't wait to share with you this next thing that happened this past Friday after I last posted on here. All I can say is that God is lavish, full of marvels, and sometimes he does things with a little fanfare -- Just so that we know it is him.

Last Friday I shared that one of our SUMite readers' husbands had got baptized. If you missed that you can read it here.  The photo I used for that post was this one here -- I got this photo from the internet, as I usually do, but I loved the happy smile on this man's face as he's in the water, and I thought 'That's what it looks like for a spouse to be baptized'. 

Anyway, as you'll see I have included that same photo again today, this time with the words 'Do it Again' -- For that is what today's post celebrates.

When I uploaded that post last Friday, I scheduled it to go live for a few hours later. Well, in the few hours between it being uploaded and going live, another SUMite messaged me (not knowing what I'd uploaded). In her message she too told me that her husband had given his life to Jesus! It had happened a month earlier, she said, and she was now getting used to having a believing husband.

I know this particular SUMite. She lives in America, has followed this ministry for a number of years, and from the few conversations we've had in the past I know for sure what a miracle this is. If she feels ready to share it publicly, we'll look forward to that; but often people don't share immediately. What I can say is this one 'felt impossible' - like they all do - and yet it happened.

Two spouse-conversion testimonies in the space of 24 hours. I don't know about you, but I'm pinching myself ((Big smiles)). So much of what we do, what we fight for, is about this. Yes, it's about holding on to our own faith -- But it is also about theirs: The spouses.

So, friends, we'll keep on watching with interest and believing that nothing is impossible. I'll keep this one short and sweet, but I'm praying about what's next.

Much love,

Ann