163 posts categorized "Spiritual Warfare"

In Our Homes We Are Fresh as a Daisy!

Hi dear friends, Scripture Aug 6

On Monday I talked about a particular feature of our Christian life in our homes: That on the one hand we're engaged in fierce battle against the powers of darkness; but on the other, much of our faith life is about enjoying the abundant life of Jesus by receiving his love and giving out his love. 

It's as if these two things often mix and swirl in our hearts: The battle, but also the delight. They do work together: If we delight in him and rest in him, we become better warriors.

Having thought about all this, I recently made the picture here for our Facebook and Instagram pages. Take a look and see what you think -- I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. It is a scripture about battle but, nudged by the Holy Spirit, I set it amongst a picture of daisies.

Fresh, lovely daisies.

The scripture itself is from 2 Corinthians 10:4:

"The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."

If you look at this picture what does it speak of to you? The idea that our weapons are not weapons of the world can certainly get us thinking afresh. 

Having marinated on this picture myself, here are a few words I've scribbled for us all with the help of the Holy Spirit. I hope these bless you in your battle and delight you as a sweet and precious child of God:

Our weapons are love, intimacy with Jesus, rest, prayer, fasting, delighting in the Lord, and other weapons that don’t look anything like worldly weapons. These are restful Kingdom weapons, just like the yoke of Jesus is easy and his burden is light.

Like daisies we might seem 'common-garden' or ordinary to others, but we are fresh and white, clean and bright in God’s eyes. Oh, how he loves us! Clothed in white like the saints in the Book of Revelation, we know whose we are. Indeed, we are positioned in his inner courts, beside his throne of grace.

Like a daisy, our faith is beautiful and fragrant to him. It is delicate and ever so precious. What’s more, it came from him all along: He clothed us in those robes of white.

And who knew … This delicate and fragrant faith holds more power than we can easily recognize. It is the light of Jesus, and that Light destroys strongholds.

So, like a sweet daisy, keep on stoking your prayer life, dear SUMite. Keep on holding on tight to the hand of Jesus. Keep on resting in him and trusting in him. Keep on reading scripture. Keep going. For, the outworking of all of this is that the Light of Jesus is so powerful that strongholds cannot help but be SMASHED!

Love you loads, Sumites!

Ann


Representing Jesus to Our Families

By Ann Hutchison Unlock with love

Hi SUMites!

I just had a realization that gave me a giggle. I went onto our Instagram page, scrolled down, and realized that I have put so many pictures of weaponry on there. We have at least two sets of boxing gloves … a sword … a spear … a few videos of me talking about hurling stones at Goliath giants .. And then I have a picture of war-planes scheduled for an upcoming post. The reason I laughed, I suppose, is that I'm not particularly like that in other areas of my life. 

I looked at all that battle imagery and thought to myself, ‘Ann?! What's going on?’ 

Well … It could be the times we’re in and what God has been asking us to focus on. Society's godlessness is ramping up. That calls for us to strengthen ourselves in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). From a personal viewpoint, I've also had to fight so tenaciously for my faith in my marriage that I do feel a bit like a toughened old boot these days. But I also know that to represent God well to others we must hold two things in equal tension: (1) Compassion/mercy on the one hand, and (2) Righteousness/truth on the other. As we learn about these, we sometimes focus on one and sometimes on the other, until we can walk out both things in tandem and represent Jesus well.

Our marriages are a great training ground for that: How to represent the mercy of Jesus, but also stand up for truth. Do you find that as difficult as I do, I wonder?

For months I suppose I've been something like a battle-maiden when it comes to Jesus. I’ve been listening to God about putting away cowardice. I’ve also been engaging more than I used to with the issue of demons. Finally - sadly -- I’ve gone near the realization that some people are truly in rebellion against God, as opposed to, say, being apathetic or on the fence. All of those issues are not ‘meek and mild’ ideas. Rather, they speak to the fact that Jesus often stood up against things and came to destroy the works of the devil, as captured in this scripture:

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 (ESV)

So yes, we've been focusing on battle in this blog lately; but, hey, perhaps we can switch modes now. The fact is, Jesus is so wonderful I want to spend the whole day with him, always! As Lynn said recently, "When you have an encounter of love with God it changes you forever," and it is that experience of Jesus that I want to bring to another person when I represent Christianity -- The kind of delightful experience of Jesus that would unlock their hearts and make them want to fall to their knees. Quote Sep 2

How, how? How do we bring Jesus to others who don't know him? Well, to know our gifts is one great way, so that we can use the strengths God has given us to fulfil his purposes. For example, some of us are great encouragers, others have an interest in praying for healing, others love praying for people. Then we must pursue those things. 

But what about bringing the abundant life to our spouses? That one feels tough because their hearts often seem unready to receive anything we want to say in spiritual terms. What a great topic for us to turn our attention to next, perhaps. I feel a series coming on!

In the meantime, let's chat in the comments -- I would love to hear what you think of any of the above.

Much love,

Ann


Thank God for Today!

Hi family, Ann here. Anniversary 2

Today marks the end of our 'battling giants' series, and we're marking it in style: With a shout-out to our God.

Here on the SUM blog, Lynn, Tiffany, Ian and I tend to write about whatever it is we're going through. Usually it aligns with 'spiritually mismatched marriage', but sometimes God takes us on other journeys.

Well, as you know, last month I wrote a series on battling giants because I was a little embattled myself with a few things. In writing the series I wanted to talk about how we fight things that we find truly tough. "In this life we will have trials", said Jesus, "But be of good cheer." (John 16:33).

Ok, Lord, I can try!

Sometimes those trials are long; sometimes they are short. 

A SUM journey, like the ones we're on, is often ... longgggg. Eight years for me, and counting. Twenty-seven years for Lynn before her hubby got baptized. But he got there! So will others. Other battles people face can be very long in years too. That doesn't mean the battle won't be over eventually. We keep praying; and we can keep asking the Lord for help.

As for the health battle? Well, I'm pleased to say I seem to be completely better! What a great encouragement that is for our other battles that we're fighting, and a great way to end the series. While I understand that many battles in life might last longer I hope this story serves to illustrate that, somehow, we can hold onto hope that in some way or other we will 'overcome'.

To finish, I'm keen to hear any final thoughts from you: Have you had a time where you faced a battle and then it was suddenly over? 

Thanks for following along with this series - Thanks for your love and friendship. And, happy 'Fourth of July' to our American friends!

Ann


Fighting Giants: A Personal Look at our Weapons of Warfare

Hi SUM family, Ann here!

This month we've had an ongoing series about 'fighting giants' and I've been writing about that here and there, in between our other topics. I hope you've enjoyed the series so far, and if you want to catch up you can find the introduction here.

This week we're going to finish with three videos. In each one I'm going to share what 'fighting a giant' has looked like for me personally in recent months. So without further ado, here's the first one -- From my couch to yours, enjoy!

 


The Way We Fight Giants

My friends, Ann here.

I have a problem. Here I am writing a series on how to fight giants using the example of some fear I've been battling … But this week the fear has gone completely! So, that's inconvenient because I'm trying to write about it. Maybe the giant wasn't enjoying the fight and ran away. ((Haha!)) Giant fighting

Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7, NIV)

It's true. As my fingers have typed words about how small giants are I’ve become increasingly fearless. To the point that I feel I've been injected with happy drugs!!

And, in that state, we've reached the part in our series where David picked up five stones to kill Goliath. 

“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:40, NIV)

This passage could be seen as an analogy for spiritual warfare in a Christian’s life. It’s easy to think ‘spiritual warfare’ has to be big and dramatic, but it’s mainly fought in the secret place, the place of intimacy with God. 

It can even be a restful battle, if we can get there. The stones are smooth, after all, and manageable.

I keep a pouch of five stones in my prayer room (TV room) as a symbol, I suppose. And I have an idea of what my top five regular stones (i.e., spiritual warfare tools) are. One is fasting, another is rest. Another, taking communion in my home. Five smooth stones

But there are probably 25 'stones' (i.e., tools) available to us, not just five. And in our community others will have a different 'top five' to me because, as an army, we have different skill-sets, gifts, and experiences.

I therefore posted a question on Facebook, asking our community what their top five are. Here’s what they said, including their quotes. I personally found these wonderful to read, and I hope you do too.

The five smooth stones of the SUM community

Worship. Private time spent in worship invites in the Lord’s presence and power; but even playing worship music in the background changes the atmosphere (2 Chronicles 20:21-22).

Praise and gratitude. Speaking out or journaling such words (Psalm 100:4)

Asking for prayer and support from trusted prayer partners/friends. Sometimes we're too embattled to pray for ourselves except to eek out 'help'. A solid two or three, or a group (e.g., church home-group) who really care about your situation is like a strong, three-fold cord (Ecclesiastes 4:12). As is their emotional support.

Prayer. This is a huge topic, but it can include specific routines like praying on the armor of Ephesians 6:10-17 routinely, binding the enemy's activity and releasing glory and blessing verbally into a situation (Matthew 18:18); blessing the house, the bed, and more.

Healing prayer from a trusted source. Our battle may have at its source underlying spiritual issues (e.g., generational stuff, freemasonry in the family) that can be revealed and healed through prayer with a trained person. We're blessed to have access to that here with Lynn's healing prayer ministry.

Reading the Bible, and quoting scripture out loud, confessing God's truths and promises. Here's a great quote: "Throw a scripture stone to combat whatever battle you are currently facing. If it is healing, throw all the scriptures verses as a stone." 

Surrender to the Lord, exchanging our will for His. A couple of SUMites said here, "The fruits are like no other". 

Journaling. I loved this quote: "I put it all down on paper or computer the situation, including my feelings, and the Lord walks me through it. Then I can throw away everything except the lesson learned."

Time and intimacy with God. "Long walks outside with the Lord / Getting up early to be with him." "Walk n pray along with sitting on the beach and asking Jesus to be with me." This overlaps with other things.

And more, but I'm out of space:

Laughter

Rest

Delight in Him

Revisiting prophetic words we have received

Distraction from triggers

Fasting

Praying in tongues

SUMites, we are equipped and we're up to the task. For the stones are manageable.

Next time I write I'll continue with this series. For now: Do any of the above tools intrigue you and make you want to know more? If so, which ones?

Have a great weekend, everyone!


The Truth about Menacing Giants

Hi friends, Ann here! Giant fighting

We're continuing today with our conversation about 'fighting giants'. Yes, those menacing things that present a huge challenge for us, whether it's sickness, financial trouble, fear of our spouse's unbelief, or any other 'very difficult battle'.

Being human, a giant will naturally look much bigger than us and make us quake in our boots:

And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him. (1 Samuel 17:4-7, NKJV)

From my internet research, six cubits and a span is apparently 9 foot 9 inches. Goliath was a whopping beast! And it's all very specific: Every part of him is menacing, from his spear, to his leg armor, to his coat. The overall impression? 'AGGH!'

In the same way, if we have a giant we're battling we can spend a lot of time looking at every part of that giant and deciding it is truly threatening. SUM team

Right then. But would you like to hear a 'giant' story? Because God gave us one at our last SUM conference - It's a story I've only just remembered today:

Two years ago you may remember we held a conference in California. Here's a photo of part of our team at the time. I can certainly share that each of these valiant women have giants they fight, none of us are alone. And they do it so well! 

After the event I was sat on Lynn's couch and she prayed for me, with Tiffany's arm round me. It was a sweet moment. 

Now, compared to others I'm short -- The opposite of a giant -- Which is an important part this story. I used to think I was 5 foot 3 but I remeasured recently and seem to have shrunk. Anyway, at that time '5-foot-3' is what I thought I was.

While praying, Lynn gave me a word. It was this: "I hear God say you're a 15-foot giant in the spirit realm." She paused, smiling ... "Does that mean anything to you?" It didn't but, hey, I liked it. Later that night I wrote it in my journal and on the plane home I asked God: "Why 15 feet?" It occurred to me then to calculate the difference between 5-foot-3 and 15 feet. And so I wrote down: 9 foot 9 inches.

Well, blow me down, that's the height of Goliath. And so it turns out I'm bigger than Goliath -- Because of Jesus. So are you, SUMites, bigger than the giant you're fighting. In David's words:

"Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? (1 Samuel 17:26, NKJV)

There's one more giant story I want to share, and I hope this one encourages you. I keep a record of my days with God by journalling. Anyway, a few days before I got smashed by this sickness God gave me a vision of the spiritual giant that I was about to battle. I didn't understand it at the time, but found it in my journal later and went "Ohh, that's interesting!" It was as if God was saying: "This is what you're about to fight and this is how you need to see it."

Now, I can tell you this giant did not look anything like Goliath. He -- Actually, it was an 'it' -- did look tall, yes, but that was the only similarity. It was skinny, grey, wispy, miserable, pathetic, and weak. Not in any way scary or intimidating.

In other words, God was saying: "This thing is not as scary as you think."

In the last post I said that I was going to share two questions we can ask God about any given giant we're fighting. Well, my writing took a different turn. So there's just one question instead and it's this:

Lord, show me how I should see this giant?

Whew, I feel stronger already just writing this. I hope you do too. Feel free to share thoughts in the comments, and let's keep chatting about this topic of giants!

Ann


Eyeballing the Giant!

Dear friends,
Giant fighting

We’re continuing our series on fighting battles. I'm calling these 'spiritual battles', as most of the battles we face in life, as Christians, could be said to be spiritual even if they seem physical.

For me, the challenge of my husband’s unbelief used to be a massive spiritual battle. It was a battle to hold onto my own faith and to keep our marriage unified, a battle for his salvation, and a battle for our children's faith. Phew, that’s one enormous fight! Of course, it was mammoth, and for a long time I felt completely overwhelmed. Over time, though, I fought that ‘giant’ – The ‘giant’ of spiritually mismatched marriage – and it became smaller. In my eyes it began to look more like a locust than a giant.

That’s what overcoming looks like. Has the circumstance changed? Yes. But the bigger change has been in my resilience. Hallelujah! 

Now, with that battle under my belt, I have a new one: A health challenge. And, I’m considering anew "How do I fight this?" This time, I know that I must assess the giant, like David eyeballed Goliath in 1 Samuel 16.  

We could say that a ‘giant’ is any mammoth situation that feels overwhelming. Many of us have scary things that feel bigger than us. A hard situation can feel so intimidating, in fact, that we can barely fight. That's why we need easy tools. More on that in a later post.

For now, when we have a giant to fight it could be a good idea to pull out paper and pen and sit with the Lord to ask him questions. “Tell me about this giant, Lord?” We could ask. Even if we're bawling our eyes out and mopping our tears with tissues, we could still eek out the question: "Tell me about the giant, Lord?" And I've got four questions that spring to mind here. I'll mention two today, and two next time. 

1. Lord, what lies am I believing about this giant?

In my own present battle, the physical circumstance of sickness is definitely the giant. I'm fighting that, and my aim is healing -- yes. But, my anxiety and fear of it is possibly the bigger issue - - It's the noise in my head that the giant is causing. I’m battling lies such as, “I’m never going to get better!” And then, “I’m scared of that.” Those thoughts are not of God. So, then, the giant is not just the physical circumstance. It’s also the voice of the enemy. 

In the story of Goliath (1 Samuel 16), Goliath is a boisterous thing. He’s got a lot to say, coming out for 40 days in a row, shouting his head off about how nobody can defeat him and he’s going to make everyone his servants. The result? The Israelites are fearful and dismayed!

Well, that’s pretty much what the giant of sickness looks like -- Or any giant that is a physical circumstance of some sort. It's in your face, shouting its head off and distressing you. But to recognize that is the start of the great fight. One of my most important things, then, is to recognize the noise of the giant so that I can shut my ears to it. 

What I conclude here is that I'm fighting two things: The physical circumstance, and the noise/lies in my head that it brings.

2. What is the enemy trying to achieve using this giant?

Ultimately, the enemy wants us to be a less effective Christian all-round so, for a start, I can look at the giant with those goggles and roll up my sleeves. 

I'm considering, right now, what satan might possibly be trying to achieve through this particular giant, and I will doggedly move in the opposite spirit. "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" (1 Samuel 17:43) roared Goliath at David. To that I say "Yes, you are a dog, and I will doggedly move against your purposes!"

It might be that the enemy is trying to destroy a particular relationship in our lives. Or, he might be trying to discourage us from serving in a particular area. In my case an obvious one is "He's probably having a go here at stopping the SUM writing, so NO!" He's also having a go at my peace and joy to distract me. Again, NO. 

How about you? What might the giant in your life be trying to stop you from doing? 

My friends, we'll carry on chatting on Monday. In the meantime, I wish you a good weekend, and all the best with analyzing those giants!

Ann

 

 


Battle Series: We Won't Start With The Giant!

Hi SUMites!

Today we’re embarking on our series entitled ‘Fight that Giant!’ If you missed the introduction to this series you can catch up here.

I’m rubbing my hands together at the thought of writing these upcoming posts, for 'giants'  -- That is, spiritually difficult things in our lives -- are nasty critters. As we learn to fight, though, we become strong. Then we can give away some of that strength to others. Wonderful!Giant fighting

Last week, I said we’d start by considering the giant that we fight. Well, God hit the override button on that one. Straight after I wrote that post, He told me “No, start with Me.”

Of course. 

Lord, You are our Giant who fights for us. And we have a picture of Jesus as a giant Himself, a picture that can help us:

“And in the midst of seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;

His feet were fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

Revelation 1:13-20 (NKJV).

Last Friday, when God told me to start this series with Him, I had a rather crazy experience. I'm not even sure what you'll think of this (you may deem me nuts!) but it seems to be relevant, so hey, I'll be brave:

While feeling unwell, I’ve been having hot baths during the day to feel better; there's not much nicer than soaking in a lovely bubble bath. Anyway, last Friday after such a bath I stepped onto the plain, brown, flat bathmat and happened to look down at my feet. There was a bright golden sparkle!

I squinted and bent down. There was another. Oh, and another! In fact, there were sparkles across the whole fabric. On closer inspection they looked like little balls, but with chiseled sides like gems. When I tried to pick a couple out with my fingers they disappeared. "What is this?" I then wondered, but I really couldn't tell so eventually stood up, thinking “It must be part of the fabric and I just never noticed before.”

Hmm...

I forgot about it then, but the next day it suddenly occurred to me to get up and look at the bath mat. Well, blow me down, there was not a single sparkle on it! This started to make my heart pound … So I grabbed the mat and took it from room to room, looking at it under different lights, and rummaging among the fabric to see if I could find just one little gold ball.

Not one gold ball was to be found. The mat was brown as anything and decidedly unsparkley. Yet, the day before I saw enough of these balls to deem them ‘part of the fabric’ and to try to pick them out with my hands. 

Could there be a rational explanation? The bathmat hadn't been washed ... I concluded that I know God is real, and so, why wouldn't it be God? In any case, the message is that His Heavenly realm is in my life, in every step I take, and in those very times I need soothing.

If we consider the Kingdom of Heaven, then, in the very place where we are most embattled those sparkles speak this message:

As servants of Jesus the Glory of Heaven is all around us,

and He is with us in every step we take.

That is our Almighty. And with that settled, now we can discuss on Monday the matter of measly giants!

For now, what's your favorite time that God showed his strength in your life when you particularly needed comfort? I would love to hear some stories in the comments.

Nice chatting, friends, and see you again on Monday,

Ann


What to Do When Facing a Scary Giant

Hello friends, Giant fighting

It’s Ann here and, with a smile on my face, I’m introducing a new series which we'll start next Friday: FIGHTING THAT GIANT!

In other words, spiritual warfare. We can always do with a fresh look on how to walk victoriously. And I know that many of us are in situations right now that fit the descriptor ‘Mind-blowingly tough’.

Here on this blog, I feel God often asks us writers to just share our lives. He takes us through things so that we can do that. Often it’s good stuff – Like Tiffany’s house purchase (yay!) Sometimes it’s crappy stuff. But pain brings story and testimony.

Well, my friends, I’ve got a situation currently that’s crappy, so here we go. I’ve mulled over whether to even share it because I don’t want to put particular attention on anything the enemy is doing. But I’ve decided that it is valuable to share, because it means we can have a good chat about how we fight tough things, with God by our side.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 1:12 (ESV)

So, let's roll up our sleeves and here's the situation:

When I stepped into fronting this ministry last year, I began to get unwell. That timing suggests it's the enemy, and I have had a couple of other clues that it is. I was prepared for it, knowing these things happen. In fact, I think a lot of Christians are going through some especially tough warfare at this time. If we are on the frontlines of salvation, as we are in this community with all our spouses, the enemy is going to have a go. His efforts won't be successful if we understand the fight and stay holding God's hand, but we do have battles.

Anyway, at first the illness was sporadic. Then it became more frequent. It turned into weeks in a row of lying on my couch. The main symptom is fatigue, and doctors are so far flummoxed. I have enough capacity to sit up with my laptop, hop on here, and look after my teenagers. So it’s not all bad. But still tough. 

A health challenge is a new battle for me. It’s not something I’ve faced before, and it comes with an array of specific challenges, most of them being mental. But what God seems to be saying to me is this:

“Ann, you learned to fight the good fight of faith in your spiritually mismatched marriage. Now take those same tools and apply them to this new battle.”

In this series, then, I’m going to write about spiritual battles and tools. When we are facing a scary giant, like little David against whopping Goliath, what are our tools?

Many of us have been reading this blog for years and have read many posts on spiritual warfare. Still, when we find ourselves in new fights we have to start again and figure out how to fight this new thing. With that in mind, I'm going to share practically what I’m doing on my couch as I work through a new battle. Yes, it's couch-based spiritual warfare in action!

The story of David and Goliath is a great analogy for this, and specifically I'm going to consider David’s ‘five smooth stones’ in relation to our own tools. What are the five smooth stones that we can use?

"Then he (David) took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine." 1 Samuel 17:40 (ESV)

For the first post (next Friday), however, before even going near the tools I'm going to take a good look at Goliath. Even though our action involves flinging smooth stones (e.g., prayer, communion), we have to be able to see Goliath's weaknesses and know where to aim the stone in the first place.

For me, ‘Goliath’ is the giant of sickness. Some days he's scary. Other days I feel like I have more of David's warrior heart. But to fight him I have to understand him. So I'll start with that.

What giants do you have in your life currently? Let's have a chat about that one!

Ann


Belief vs Unbelief: The Enemy's Influence

Dear friends, Ann here. Ingredients of belief

We’re in a series about what goes into belief vs. unbelief. Part one was about free will, and I loved reading your comments. Today I want to talk about another factor: The influence of the demonic.

One of the earliest questions I had for God was, “Is Satan really real?” It was one thing to believe in God, but to believe in Satan and demons was a notch further. It raised so many questions for me.

Apart from scripture, what ultimately led me to believe Satan was real was that a few trusted people I know (seasoned Christians) have encountered demons. Plain and simple. That was a start. I've since had several times of my own where I've heard a demon speak in a particular situation. Interestingly, it’s never scared me.

I deliberately try not to give the devil glory in speaking about a situation. I'd rather talk about what Jesus is doing. However, the fact is that Satan is the god of this world, so privately I take absolute notice of his activities. "I've got my eyes on you -- I know the power of the blood of Jesus, and you're toast!" I say to him behind the scenes. When faced with an unbeliever, then, that’s where I go: What has the enemy done in this person’s life?

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4, NLT)

These precious people who currently do not believe are clay in God’s hands. We can work on the assumption that God wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). What's more, although God has sovereign plans and timings for things, he might have designed someone to be a vessel of honor, and the enemy might be trying to bar the clay.

That is, in fact, a word the Holy Spirit gave me a few weeks ago: The enemy tries to bar the clay.

In this word, barring the clay, for me it brings an image to mind where the enemy is constructing prisons around people to come between them and their Kingdom destiny. To bar them from becoming what they can be: A son or daughter of God.

The Good News, of course, is that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Hallelujah! By the power of Jesus's blood, the enemy can shrivel up into a helpless ball and disappear from a situation. IF we learn how to boot him out. Yes, Jesus asks us to cast out demons with the authority he has given us (Mark 16:17). For some seasoned ministers, this is a real calling and they understand the demonic realm and directly come against it. For the rest of us, we need to know that it can happen on the floor of our living rooms as we bind the enemy in our private prayers.

It can look like this, spoken by a humble mother on her knees:

“I know who I am in the Kingdom of Heaven. I take my authority in Jesus’ name and I bind the antichrist spirit in this particular situation.”

Then, we follow by releasing life with our very tongue:

“I pray for this person's intimacy with you Lord!

I release hope! I release faith! I release love in their life!” And so on. And so on.

My friends, that's what our prayers are doing in the Heavenly realm: Breaking those bars open, releasing people from enemy imprisonment. Hallelujah to that! 

I’ll pause there; but next time I'm going to talk about the role of God’s plan in a person’s life. 

For now, here's a question: How familiar do you feel with this area of praying against the enemy? Have you seen success when you have prayed in that way? 


When a Spouse Leaves the Faith -- Part 3

Hi friends, Ann here! Tears

When a spouse leaves the faith -- part 1

When spouse leaves the faith – part 2

I’d like to thank those SUMites whose stories have helped inform the last two posts on this topic. It is an intensely difficult path.

The grief of a lost shared faith in marriage is an extreme thing to live with, but several of the SUMites I talked to said they can look back and see how much they have learned through it all. So I thought it might be nice to finish with a few ‘tips’, or insights, from these SUMite soldiers.

If I can summarize, what most said – in one way or another -- is this:

Once you realize the battle is spiritual, a shift takes place.

Once you realize that it's a blinding of your spouse's heart, the fight changes its flavor.

Once you realize that your spouse is not the enemy but the prize worth fighting for, then you begin to battle as an overcomer.

I guess those comments point to this well-known verse:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NKJV)

With that in mind, here are some final insights -- pieces of wisdom -- from those SUMites:

(1) Winning without words is the way to go.

Yes, 'Winning him without words' is one of our favorite mottos, from 1 Peter 3:1. In this scenario, it most likely means not bashing the faithless spouse over the head with arguments. In fact, those ones who have lost their faith probably know every argument there is and will not appreciate a head-walloping. A couple of our SUMites said they tried hurling apologetics at their spouse for a good few months; then gave up. It didn't do any good. A gentle and quiet spirit was the better formula.

(2) Upgrade your spiritual warfare

Several SUMites said how much their journey changed once they enhanced their understanding of spiritual warfare. There are quite a few resources out there, and several mentioned the book Marching around Jericho had been a big help. Many of our blog posts on here in the archives also cover the topic of warfare.

(3) Fight for that marriage

Said one SUMite: "I learned how to fight for my marriage. I learned that the entire situation was because the enemy wanted to destroy my marriage and destroy our family. I stopped contending for my husband's soul with angst because, frankly, it was exhausting, and it wasn't MY JOB to save him!”

(4) Your faith will never be the same again – And it's a good thing!

Several SUMites said this situation has changed their relationship with God for the better. This statement was pretty powerful:

“If God gave me the choice for my husband and I to each go back to the faith we had before all this, I wouldn't choose that. My husband's faith was obviously lacking and built on shifting sand, and my relationship with God was also lacking. So, if I don't want to go back, then the only way to go is forward, and God's already there.”

(5) Finally, God is not surprised by any of this!

It's true -- He knows. He knows all about it. And he will use it. In the words of one SUMite:

“And then it dropped that He is good and this is not a surprise or an 'oh crap, I didn't see that coming' moment for Him. And that was a turning point for me.”

So, my friends, that brings our series on this topic to an end for now. I can't help but feel there's so much more we could say. For example, what is it like for the spouse who loses their faith? How can we walk it with compassion? I'm sure we will be back to revisit this. But for now, we'll leave it there. 

To conclude, are there any other key tips that you would share with someone walking behind you on this path?

Till next time,

Ann


Waging War With God's Words

Hi SUMites, Ann here!  Rings

As you know, we’re currently looking at past words that the Holy Spirit has spoken to this community. In our archives there are places where the Lord has said something specific to equip us, and I’m in the process of pulling these words out, in date order, to see how the Lord has progressively spoken to us as a body.

What does God want us to know? Where does he want us to focus our minds? What wisdom does he have for us?

On Monday I shared the first of these words. It was the simplest of words that the Lord gave Dineen for this community but sometimes he gives us simple truths to digest, especially as a first step. Dineen described the word as this:

He is calling our pre-believers with His salvation.

We need only lift our face to Him and trust that He is doing it.

When we receive such a word, our role is then to engage with it. Believe it. Turn it over in our minds. For example, we could go about our week asking 'What does it mean or look like for the Lord to be ‘calling’ my spouse?'

One way of engaging with a word from the Holy Spirit is to write it up and pop it somewhere accessible, at least for a little while. So today I have a post-it stuck on the wall by my washing-up sink. It says:

“He is calling my husband. Keep lifting my eyes heavenward!”

This is what Paul advised his younger believer, Timothy, to do in 1 Timothy 1:18: Wage war with a prophetic word. Speak it out in faith. God has said he is 'calling', and so we can align our thoughts with it and consider it carefully.

There is a scripture in the Psalms that vividly depicts how a body of people, like us SUMites, can 'wage war' with God's words. That scripture is super interesting, and I might unpack it a little. It says this:

"The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it:

‘Kings of armies flee, they flee, and she who remains at home divides the spoil. Though you lie down among the sheepfolds, you will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.'

When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Zalmon."

(Psalm 68:11-14, NKJV)

What’s interesting here is that the first sentence uses the Hebrew word o'mer for ‘word’, which can mean promise. In other words, the Lord gave a promise and then a company of people proclaimed that very promise themselves. They were a great company too: Like the SUMites!

The middle lines are the promise itself: That kings of armies would flee, and it has a wonderful air of mystery with visions of gold and silver feathers. When God speaks, there may well be some mystery included. Anyway, it is this promise that the company of people declared. And then the final line (verse 14) documents that the Almighty did scatter the kings, just as he had promised. Exactly as the company of people had proclaimed.

SUMites, we are like that great company of people in Psalm 68 who received promises straight from the Lord, declared them, and eventually would see victory. Let’s keep on waging war with the things he has shown us.

On Friday I will share another word from the archives. Lovely chatting, and see you then! 

Ann


The Enemy Cannot Handle This!

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here!

Sunday, September 29th is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. We've talked about this Jewish holiday over the years. In fact, the first time I'd ever been made aware of it's significance was because of a blog post from either Lynn or Dineen. For those who are not familiar or are new to this holiday, a simple "Rosh Hashanah" search on this site will provide you with a wealth of information. Feel free to check out the archives!

My prayer for us today is that we will each take away something fresh and new. Holy Spirit, reveal to us the heartbeat of God. Amen!

Rosh Hashanah isn't actually a biblical holiday but a traditional Jewish holiday. The term "Rosh Hashanah" means "head of the year" and is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. This is a two-day celebration that proceeds Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

In the beginning of this month, the Lord really pressed upon me to watch Patty Tower's talk that was given at the SUMite Summit this last April. I decided to go back and watch it again. (I will provide a link below so you can revisit that as well. It is absolutely worth a re-watch!)

As I sat down to think about Rosh Hashanah and what I would include in this post, I went back to my notes from Patty's message. There is so much good in this message but I want to point out one theme:

  • Joshua 6 - God gives specific instructions about the destruction and taking of the city of Jericho. In verse 20 we see the result of following God's plan and not their own: "So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."
  • Patty called us to march around our house 7 times and shout, declare, pray and praise things into existence. It was in the great shout that the walls fell flat down.

Rosh Hashanah isn't in the Bible; however, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is. Let's take a look.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ” - Leviticus 23:23-25

The Hebrew word, Teruah, in Leviticus for blowing trumpets is the same word used in Joshua 6 where they shouted with a great shout. The first day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, is a day of blowing trumpets or shouting.

Notice what else it says in Leviticus about this day - you shall have a sabbath-rest. Yom Teruah happens to fall on a Sunday. The day we, as children of God, call our sabbath!

So, why is this important for us? If we are not Jewish, what is the point of celebrating this time of year?

We've already seen in our community some amazing things worth celebrating. Many professions of faith and baptisms with our spouses, children or others we love. Libby gave us a beautiful word about the SUMite community with her picture of the mountain. The SUMite Summit where some gathered in California being at the top and from that trickle, the waters of our faith continued to pool together to create a river at the bottom.

I truly believe something was activated in the heavenlies and we have set off a chain reaction. The enemy has been stirred to anger and we have seen much push back from illness, discord with our spouses and children, financial struggles, backsliding, strongholds etc.

However, I truly believe that God is calling His children deeper. I believe that He is stirring in us a hunger and thirst that can no longer be quenched by fear, pain or opposition tactics from the enemy.  I believe that NOW is the time for us to press in all the more into the God of Miracles. NOW is the time to storm the gates of Heaven for our spouses, children, our complete freedom and healing. I believe that NOW is the time for us to suit up and prepare for battle.

There is a shifting going on right now. As we are in this transition period, it is up to US if we are going to take God at His word - for our destinies, purposes, signs, miracles and wonders. We cannot afford to give up or give in. The future of generations to come hangs in the balance. It sounds intense but don't worry! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Patty's talk at the SUMite Summit: https://www.facebook.com/SpirituallyUnequalMarriage/videos/387269661859875/

There is so much more I could say but I've gone on a little long.

As we approach this Jewish New Year, what are the things you are coming to the Throne of Grace for? What do you hope to see in this new season? Shout

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! -- Psalm 47:1 (Shout here is the root word of teruah ::grin::)

We are going to shake the heavens and the earth with our shouts! In the comments, give a mighty shout to the Lord. Thank Him for the victory you've been praying and waiting for! Decree and declare that these prayers are answered in Jesus' mighty name! Now it is up to you to take Him at His word. Trust. Believe. Wait and see. God is so good. And He is worthy of the wait. Hugs!

 

 


Esther: Special Intelligence

Hi friends, Ann here.Esther

We're now in chapters 4 and 5 of Esther.

As I begin this post, I have this in my head: Know your enemy.

I don’t talk about the enemy much. I deliberately don’t give him airtime. But I do take careful notice of his activities so that I can move appropriately in prayer.

One of my earliest questions as a Christian was whether there really was an enemy of our souls; a being, or beings who were influential in this world. Without going into detail, God did answer that question for me and showed me there is. On a couple of occasions, I’ve even heard a demon, though I’ve never seen one visually. Though I was surprised to hear the thing, it didn’t scare me one bit. It used a lot of F-words, and then spat out what its intentions were. My reaction was “You’re busted! I know what you’re up to.” I guess God allowed me to hear it so that I could pray.

Later, I told a pastor that I’d had this experience. I hadn’t told anyone as it seemed crazy. The pastor nodded, “Yes, they do use F-words, so that would’ve been a demon.” Okayyy… A wild experience.

Why this story? Because chapters 4 and 5 proclaim how we thwart the enemy, and we do it by uncovering hidden things. Esther’s moves are, in essence, spiritual warfare.

The first noticeable move of Esther’s is that she sought out, from Mordecai, Haman’s secret plot. Similarly, for us, beating the enemy involves asking the Holy Spirit to reveal things. If we ask, He will show. Like intelligence agents we can then roll up our sleeves and say, “I’m game! Show me more, Lord!”

Next, came a time of reflection for Esther, helped by fasting. Hearing Mordecai’s wisdom she recognized her own responsibility and the safest way forward. The safest way forward, in fact, involved her saying “If I perish, I perish”. So be it. Lord, so be it. That’s the point we get to, as Christians: “I'm dying to myself now. Let’s go.”

From that strength, she moves. The King extends his sceptre. She touches its top. And in that very move, where she extends her hand and makes physical contact, her favor is established. She will take the territory. I think something similar happens spiritually for us the moment we move forward with faith of a mustard seed. We’ll take the land.

Yet, there is still the process of the feasts. Esther fasts, then feasts. But her feast is not about her eating fun food. Instead, it’s a feast that draws on every ounce of courage. She invites her husband to her table, and it’s a table God has laid for her in the presence of her enemies (Psalm 23:5). Her husband says to her, “What do you want, my darling? You can have half my Kingdom.”

Half his kingdom: Gold. Power. Prestige. No. Esther wants salvation, single-mindedly.

The funny thing is, she doesn’t do this over one feast, she does it over two. That is, instead of leaping forward into her plan at feast #1, she waits and holds another one: feast #2. It’s as if something in her is saying, Not yet. Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it.

SUMites: Wait for it. Wait for it. Nearly there.

In between feasts #1 and #2, a critical process happens. The enemy's head expands to the size of a balloon as he soaks in his power among his minions. His wife Zaresh is egging him on; her name means ‘misery’ and ‘strange’. “Build a gallows!” miserable Zaresh cries. “YES!” he roars back. The point is, the wait between feast #1 and feast #2 allows him to expand to the point of defeat. 

If we are waiting for victory, is there a place for process while the enemy builds his own downfall?

I'm currently reading a spiritual memoir* by someone whose own life conveys this very thing. The author’s life was racked with drugs, sex, and dysfunction for the entire time she raised her children to adulthood. What a waste, one might say. Her Christian parents watching, could only grieve. BUT, in her fifties a divine reversal came. She is now a deeply impactful minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All to His glory.

Friends, hope you enjoyed that.  Do you have any thoughts or comments on these aspects of spiritual warfare?

Till the next post,

Ann

*Haynes, A. (2018). Too many voices: My journey from confusion to clarity. San Diego, CA: Eternal Voice Publishing.


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


A Table Set For Victory

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here.

I pray that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love gathering with family, eating fantastic food and reflecting  on all of the favor, mercy, and goodness of Daddy that has happened for the year.

As I was thinking last week about what Holy Spirit wanted me to share, I fingerprinted a man with a business logo on his sweatshirt that said "Stillwater." This prompted me to look up "still water" in the Bible. The main passage that came to mind was in Psalm 23:

 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

TABLE BEFORE ENEMIES*Photo credit: Loving Grace Ministries

Reading this familiar passage again I was shocked to see verse 5, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..." I had completely forgotten that this verse was in this Psalm.

That is when Holy Spirit brought to my mind the song Surrounded (Fight My Battles) by Elyssa Smith from UPPERROOM. Forgive me if I've shared this song before. I love it so much. My favorite verses in this song say, "my weapons are praise and thanksgiving, this is how I fight my battles"

I have been seeing Psalm 23 all over the place since I first saw this man's sweatshirt. I know that of the Psalms, this one is so common and well known even in the secular world; however, this particular passage has not been on my radar for quite some time. Each and every time I am seeing a reference to Psalm 23 there is a different verse that is being highlighted. I think I need to dwell here for a while! I was inspired so much so that I committed this passage to memory. This is a first for me to memorize an entire passage. Woot!

I think with all of the apparent darkness and chaos going on in our community (illness, death, financial struggle, marriage breakdown, depression, chronic pain, etc) and in the world today I want us to meditate on this phrase, "I am beginning to see the darkness around me is just the shadow of Your wings." *Note: this is not my phrase, this gets me every time I listen to this song...SO SO GOOD.*

God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding. (Psalm 47)

Please know that our Daddy is surrounding you with His love, presence, favor, mercy, and grace. I know we all know this but may we truly rejoice and sing praises with understanding! Understand your are highly favored. Understand you are loved. Understand you are cherished. Understand in your weakness He is strong. Understand that even in the toughest time of your life He is in control. Understand you are seated with Christ Jesus. Understand you have authority. Understand you are the victor. Understand it. Is. Finished!

Let us lift our voices in one accord today:

I don't know about you the Lord uses songs to get me through the darkest days. Share in the comments some songs that see you through tough times. Your suggestions could be healing salve and oil of joy to another. I love you SUM family.


Sexual and Our Soul

MarriageMonday’s article elicited quite a response. I received some amazing emails. And my dear friends, God is in the business of healing.

Today, I want to share what I have learned about the spiritual realm and sex. I’m going to discus only a small portion of my knowledge in this area as our sexuality, sexual practices and beliefs regarding sex have a vast affect on our lives. But today, I want to talk about the union of sex in the spiritual realm.

And as you read this post, PLEASE, DO NOT go into condemnation. This post is your spiritual warfare and your freedom. Once you have awareness, your victory is at hand!!!  Hallelujah!

-----

I wonder if you have taken note of the explicit warnings about sex in the Bible?

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. — Ephesians 5:3

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. —Galatians 5: 19-20

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. —Hebrews 13:4

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men. — 1 Corinthians 6:9

Why do you suppose that God is giving humankind such a punctuated message?

Other sinful practices may pollute the mind or create bitterness in the soul, (unforgiveness). But sexual sin involves a union to another of the body, the mind, AND the spirit.

Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” — 1 Corinthians 6:16

THIS VERSE IS LEGIT!

Let me explain how this works. A man or woman joins in a relationship and they engage in sex, usually intercourse. In this union there is a literal joining of the body, the mind, the emotions and in the spiritual realm, an exchange takes place. A portion of yourself in the spirit is shared with your partner. You give a part of your soul, your emotions, your heart and thoughts over to this person. I’ve come to understand this as a soul-tie. It’s only a name that I use in deliverance prayer. These ties are often Godly and intended to bond a husband and wife together in a special intimacy, a union only shared by two people.

A side note: This union is a reflection of the intimacy that God seeks with His children. It’s the intimacy of complete vulnerability and openness, no secrets and complete transparency. It is holy, sacred and very specially held in the Father’s heart.

You can have Godly ties with your children, friends, and even people within our community. I have ties with so many of you. It is a love bond that flows from my heart and is tied directly into your heart. That is why I’m very vulnerable and hurt when someone in our community is critical or condemning. Thankfully, that rarely happens. That’s because you have a Godly bond with my heart as well.

Isn’t that so cool?

Anyhoo, things go wonky within in a sexual relationship where intimacy, love and commitment aren’t paramount. The sexual tie becomes a bond of ungodliness, dark emotions, and strongholds. And these ungodly soul-ties can become a tool of the devil. Demonic forces will latch themselves onto an unhealthy, ungodly soul-tie to perpetuate an obsession with your partner. They will twist your thoughts about this person and leave you unavailable to seek healthy relationships. That is their goal. They want people to be hung up in a bond to someone even years, decades old, who treats them poorly or who has abandoned them all together. These ties can bind for years because in the spirit realm it clearly states that two shall become one. And if not broken, they grow in deception.

Additionally, within these ungodly sexual ties the demonic with begin to twist sexuality, sexual identity, sexual limits and introduce sexual practices that lead further into debauchery. It’s a wicked circle of shame, dangerous health practices, and it will devastate your life and faith. The eventual goal is to lead a person into perversion. Then the demonic will shame the person with by words like You are sick. Do you realize what you did with your body? You are worthless. No one will ever love a slut like you. Then the cycle will start all over again. The goal is to lead a person through so much shame and the lies of no escape that eventually they become hopeless and suicide becomes the way out.

THESE ARE LIES FROM THE PIT OF HELL!

I'm privileged to pray with many and watch Jesus free them from past sexual issues. And by the way, I’m one of the many. I’ve had to walk this road of reclaiming my sex life, my purity and dealing with past shame. You aren’t alone.

Breaking free from sole-ties is possible. Pray and ask God to break your emotional and all ungodly soul ties with past partners. Sanctify your sexuality and sex life. Talk to your spouse if you are engaged in sex that makes you uncomfortable. It is healthy to set proper boundaries in the bedroom with your spouse. MOSTLY, pray and ask Jesus to bless your sex life with your spouse.

If you need more information about Healing Prayer, visit Three Keys Ministries/Healing Prayer. I'm booked well into November so be patient. It's worth the wait! :)

Thank you for hearing me. Take what I’ve shared to Jesus and ask Him about it all. Ask Him to lead you through healing and purity. Love you, Lynn

Thoughts?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9


Do You Want The Evidence Or The Truth?

Hey SUM Family,

Tiffany here:

ev·i·dence -  

a : an outward sign : indication

b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter
(Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

Last post (This Is Just The Pits!) we began to take a look at the life of Joseph. We discovered that there are ten tests we must face in order to fulfill our God-given purpose (I highly suggest you read From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris for more on this topic). I want us to really dive into the deep end of the pool as we learn more about the pit test.

First, let's continue on in the story of Joseph. At this point he was ambushed by his brothers and thrown into the pit. Changing scenes, we see what happens with his family next:

So [Joseph's brothers] took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, "We  have found this. Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" And he recognized it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces" (Genesis 37:31-33).

F.E.A.RJoseph's brothers did not flat out lie and say that Joseph was killed. Jacob came to that conclusion because of their leading question, "Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" This is what we would call fabricated (false) evidence.   Remember evidence is an indication or something that furnishes proof. This evidence in Jacob's mind was proof that his favorite son was dead - to him it was the truth.

For over 20 years, imagine Jacob as he says in v. 35, "For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning." Imagine a father so heartbroken that he was not able to be consoled. I don't know for certain but I can imagine countless nights of crying himself to sleep, restlessness, no appetite, deep depression...unable to move on. Not only that but his other sons could have easily freed him from all of it...over 20 years of seeing and living with their father. What callous and prideful hearts!

What about you? What fabricated evidence has been stacked up against you? Your marriage? Your parenting? Your identity in Christ? What lies of the pit have kept you trapped for far too long? 

We live in a sin-hardened world, and we will be tempted by fabricated evidence just as Jacob was. And like Jacob, we will suffer unnecessary grief if we allow the lies of the pit to determine what we believe.

This is very important. If you want to get out of the pit, you must learn to discern the lies of the enemy. Because when you are in the pit, you are especially vulnerable. When you are in the pit, circumstances usually don't look very favorable - and that is exactly when Satan will manipulate those circumstances in order  to deceive you. He will hold up those circumstances before you as evidence that you should believe him rather than have faith in God. But fabricated evidence is not the truth. Joseph's brothers held up a bloody coat as evidence, and that evidence looked pretty convincing. But it was fabricated evidence. It was not the truth. If you want to overcome the lies of the pit, you must learn to focus on what God has said. When you are in the pit, you must remember that nothing is too hard for God, no matter what evidence the enemy might produce...

Yet even worse than his fabricated evidence is Satan's biggest lie: "You've messed up too badly. It's too late for you. You've messed up too badly to ever fulfill God's destiny for your life." Do you realize that the Bible is a book entirely about restoration? The Bible is filled with stories of people who messed up so badly that it seemed even God couldn't do anything about it - and yet He restored every one of them. He wants you to know that nothing is impossible for Him. As long as you have breath, it is never too late to call out to God. It doesn't matter what pit you are in. If you call out to God, He can fix it. And that is the real purpose of the pit. (pp. 38-39, From Dream to Destiny, Robert Morris)

Next time I want to finish up with the hope we have - the light at the end of the tunnel - in times of experiencing the pit test. But for now, let's meet in the comments. Let me speak truth into you and pray with you as we debunk the lies of the pit. Lean into this reality that fabricated evidence, no matter how convincing or real it appears, is NOT the truth. I promise you that this assurance will transform your life and catapult you out of the pit.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

-- Colossians 2:13-15 (NLT)


Five Smooth Stones

Hi everyone  Somewhere over the rainbow  SUM

As I write, it’s Thursday morning here in New Zealand, and I'm a hungry girl. Each fast I do more than I did before; and yet, this fast, like my others before, has been an imperfect one.

Yesterday, for example, I went to work hungry. By 1pm it was awful. I left my office where I was putting on a cheerful front, shut myself in the toilet cubicle and said to Jesus, “HOW did you do this for 40 days?” It made me realize I hadn’t ever considered Jesus’s 40 days of no food or water.

At 2pm, I freaked, I had a class to teach: “What if I faint in front of the class?” That was it. Seizing control of my situation, I reached for my bag, pulled out a small wrapped bar called ‘one square meal’, and gobbled it up. My hunger disappeared and I missed it instantly – “Oh no, come back!!”

Fasting. What does it do?  I still don’t understand it, but this time round I’m feeling it crash me to my knees – if not physically, in my heart. In my fasting state, there are no first-world problems. I’m hungry, that’s it. I bow my knee to the Father.

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Ephesians 3:14, NKJV.

Fasting has got me thinking about the five smooth stones that God gave David to fight with. David knelt in obedience, gathered the stones, and stood up. Then he simply popped a stone into his sling, and - plop! - down went Goliath. Obviously, there were emotions around it, but the fact was he held these precious little stones in his hot hand. They were like secret treasure.  Five smooth stones

These five smooth stones were gentle weapons: small, rounded, easy to pick up, simple to hold. They make me think of fasting, rest, delight, dancing, and worshipping; things that represent a lifestyle of intimacy. Little lightweight stones.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV.

On Tuesday I woke with a picture of myself and my kids sinking colored pool balls by connecting with the white ball. Plop, plop, plop, went the balls. It made me think, “For victory, you have to get your connection with the white right.”  Similarly, to sink the giants, we seek first – above all else -- our connection with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That's what I'll teach my kids.

This SUM community is a place I have been learning how to do that. The example of all of you has made me grow. For that I’m enormously grateful.

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”

Ephesians 3:14-21, The Message

Tomorrow I’d love to take communion with you, the SUMites, who I find to be my happy place. So, if you would, come to the blog with bread and wine and we'll eat the best possible meal together.

Love to you all.

Ann


An Honor Lesson Dealt In Cards.

Hello SUM family, Tiffany Here!

Lynn has asked the SUM leadership team to read the book Culture of Honor by Danny Silk for this summer series on honor. I want to share a brief  exerpt and give a real life example from my time in God's classroom. I can't say that it has been easy but I praise God that He hasn't given up on me!

"A spirit of gentleness" is an important phrase. It specifically describes the heart attitude of the one doing the confrontation. Gentleness is the perfect term to describe the attitude we must have with those who have made mistakes or failed somehow. Gentleness does not mean nice, and it doesn't mean polite. The heart of gentleness is the belief that "I do not need to control you."

Mastery of gentleness begins in our belief system. Do we believe that we can control others? Let's review the simple way to test it out. What happens to you when other people do not let you control them? Do you become angry? Do you interpret it as dishonor? Do you find a way to justify punishing them? A yes to any of these questions exposes that you still believe the lie that you can and should control people. Kingdom confrontation requires that you repent of this and begin to allow others to control themselves (p 166).

I love playing games. My grandparents taught Jason and I a card game that has been in their family for decades, several months ago. Jason and I love strategy and so this game is fun for both of us. The other night I pulled out the decks of cards, in trying to keep us disconnected with technology and spend quality time with one another after the kids had gone to bed. The difference between Jason and I is that when he loses, it is not really that big of a deal. When I lose, I get really emotionally involved. In saying this I am sure you can guess the outcome. This wasn't just a losing game for me but an absolute creaming! I was buried with no hope for resurfacing.

Dilley YahtzeeThe goal of this game is to get rid of the cards in your hand. You do this by laying down in front of you a variation of cards depending on the level. I sensed he was about to "go out" and win the current round (and thus further burying me in points against me) so in desperation I said, "Please don't go out!" He did anyway. I couldn't control him - - anger. We decided to go to bed and finish the game another time but my stinky attitude followed me into the next day.

I had failed my husband in showing him God's view of love that does not dishonor others, is not easily angered and always protects (1 Corinthians 13). One of the great things about repentance is that  it "creates an opportunity for true restoration. In fact, it is absolutely necessary in order to heal a relationship that has been hurt by sinful behavior (p. 99)."

The curriculum is far from over in this classroom I am in but I am proud to say that I am gaining victory one step at a time.

Do you struggle with the lies that you can and should control others? If yes, I assure you that I am right there with you. How can I be praying for you in your fight to create a culture of honor in your home?

See you in the comments.

 


Suicide Is Defeated - Read This!

SwordSUMites,

Last week, news feeds displayed faces of two celebrities who committed suicide. When there is a celebrity suicide, such as Robin Williams, the national suicide rates jump 10 %. Well not this time! Upon reading the headlines and then a Facebook friend sharing about his experience, see below, I was compelled by Jesus to share a story with you.

Several years ago, the Lord had me in an advanced classroom where I learned many of the secret weapons the demonic realm employs against us. And one of the things I learned is how the voice of suicide is perpetuated into a person’s life, so much so, that they take their own life.

I am compelled to share this because when someone reads it, they will be immediately set free. It may be challenging to process but ask the Lord to reveal the truth in what I share.

During this season of study, I read a ton of books about our authority, identity, and the workings of demons. I came to a place where I realized that the demon of death and the demon of suicide gains influence and a voice into our conscious in certain circumstances and misaligned beliefs.

In my study, a question was proposed: Have you ever felt, while you were driving, like you just want to run your car into a wall?

Let me be clear. This question spews forth directly from a voice of a demon. It is unholy, filled with hatred and motivated to destroy. Our heavenly Father would NEVER speak such a thing into your mind. At the time my daughter was in high school and really battling on many of fronts in her life. One day while we were driving somewhere, I asked her this question.

She paused before answering but quietly, “Ya, I have.”

“Caitie, this is a voice of a demon.”

Let me explain why she or others who think a thought like this become vulnerable to the devil’s whispers. I asked her another question, “Have you ever in some point of fear or frustration said to yourself, ‘It would just be easier if I died.’”

When a person gives consideration to the voice of the enemy, even once, they are vulnerable to oppression because they have come into agreement with the devil’s primary mission:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10a)

A person opens a door, through legal rights, for a demon to speak to them. When someone rejects the truth of God; life, love, hope, etc. and embraces a lie of the demonic, they unknowingly subject themselves to oppression and/or torment. In this particular case, torment of ongoing thoughts of death, suicide, and escape through dark means.

When I shared this with Caitie, immediately the voice stopped. In fact, years have passed but recently I asked her again the same question, “No mom. I’ve never heard it again.”

AWARENESS ….. I’m convinced awareness is 75% of our spiritual warfare. The remainder; repentance. And finally, embracing the truth of who we are and Whose we are.

If you have thoughts along these lines. Pray: Father, in the name of Jesus, I repent for coming into agreement with the enemy that death is an answer to my life’s problems. I ask for forgiveness and I receive your forgiveness, covered in the blood of Jesus. Lord, from this day forward I belive what you say about me. That you have life abundant and a hope and future for me. I renounce any influence and silent any voice that is counter to Your truths. In the powerful name of Jesus. AMEN

If you want all of heaven to join you in this battle, you can say AMEN in the comments. There is NO judgement in this House of SUM. There is no condemnation in this House of SUM. There is only love, acceptance and FREEDOM. HALLELUJAH!! We stand with you for you full freedom! I love you, brave SUMites. Our victory is hard fought, but our awareness is at hand and we will be free indeed. Hugs, Lynn


SUMites Summit on the Summit by Libby

When I was paying for the SUM community, Holy Spirit started downloading words and pictures into my soul for us! So, in prayer, I grabbed my pen and sketch pad and let Holy Spirit flow through me. This is the first time I have ever done this, and let me tell you, it was awesome and I want more!!! I really hope that the photo at the end of this post expresses it properly (best viewed on laptop/pc). I pray that God will bless you through it and reveal to you in your heart what He wants you to know :) 

I believe He is calling together an army from across the nations to join forces together against evil. In the spiritual realm we are together and we are kicking up noise! An uproar against satan and his wicked plans. The angels can hear us and they rejoice! The demons can hear us and they flee! Other believers can hear us and they join us! 

Holy Spirit led me to this scripture for the SUMITE ARMY:

"Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath — those who rejoice in my triumph. Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The Lord Almighty is mustering an army for war. They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens — the Lord and the weapons of his wrath — to destroy the whole country." Isaiah 13:2-5

Then, knowing I am a word nerd, He led me to contemplate "Sumite" and how similar it is to "Summit". I got super excited! Look at the dictionary definition of Summit and how it ties in with this scripture! 

1 - The highest point of a hill or mountain. (God is calling the Sumites to the Summit of the mountains/hills)

1.1 - The highest attainable level of achievement. (God is the highest of the highest. We are victors through him)

2 - A meeting between leaders (we are being called to converge at the Sumite Summit on the summit!!!) 

Holy Spirit then blew me away and as I prayed, it was as though He downloaded these prophetic words to me for all the Sumites:

The Sumite army is rising up! This army has been amassed from across the world, and now it is time to join together and wage war! Listen to the sound of the horn calling you! Move forward inch by inch to take back the land that the enemy has stolen! It is our land - it rightfully belongs to us through Christ - and it is time to march forward and reclaim it. We belong to God, He has called us by name, we are His chosen army. Rise up to take back land and free the captives of the enemy (our unsaved loved ones) who will then join the army and be mighty soldiers for God. Who better to make a powerful and effective fighter than one who has been held as a prisoner of war?! 

The battle is the Lord's. He goes before us and fights for us. He sends angelic armies to join forces with us. Trust Him. We fight from a position of victory! He has already overcome the enemy. Wave His banner high over you, blow the shofar, sing praises, dance and worship! The ground will shake and tremble. Mountains will crumble. Chains will be broken. Prison cells will be unlocked. We will spill the enemy's blood. Angelic armies are joining forces with us and fighting for us. Be fierce and forceful in battle, your strength comes from the Lord God Almighty and he has given us every provision we need to win. We are victors, we are overcomers, we are more than conquerors. 

Our battle plan and strategy are given through His word. Remember, put on the full armour - this is essential - and keep your shield of faith high and declare hedges of protection around your families and your households. Use your weapon - the sword of the Spirit, His anointed word, which is sharper than a double-edged sword, the most powerful weapon which no enemy can withstand. Follow Jesus' example when He was attacked and tempted by the devil - He declared the Holy Word and did not enter into negotiation. Know your enemy. Know his deceitful tricks and strategy - knowledge is power. What are your weakest points? Where is he likely to press? Is there anything that could compromise your hedge of protection?  Pray for discernment and wisdom and God will answer you and deliver you. 

We have the organization needed in our ranks: generals, officers, watchmen, gatekeepers and foot soldiers. If you are battle wounded and weary and can't be on the front line right now that is okay. But, pray for the army and you can regain your strength so that you can join the fight on the front lines. The way to stop becoming battle weary is to rest in His love and peace. Worship Him. Draw close to Him. Speak to each other in hymns and prayers. If anyone falls down, then the rest of the army should surround them and encourage them. When the generals and leaders are fatigued, foot soldiers should carry them. When a comrade is injured, tend to them. This battle is real - the Sumites are already experiencing the attacks of the enemy and some are wounded in battle. BUT, the enemy may be able to superficially wound us, but he cannot beat us or kill us and he knows it. We are each sealed by Holy Spirit and stamped through and through as God's child. Do not be afraid. Do not tremble before the enemy. God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. He has blessed you with every spiritual blessing. He has given us everything we need. Use it and put the enemy back in his place! 

The enemy is trembling, he knows his time is nearly up and he will now amass all his forces in every last ditch attempt to defeat us. But, we shall not be defeated! Stand guard. Stand firm. Press on. Know we are victors through Christ. Prepare for victory and celebration. God's glory will be sung throughout the land and our victorious cries will resound in heaven!!!

Libby xxx

Libby Finan SUM Army May 2018