376 posts categorized "#SUM Nation"

Heavy Stones and Dry Bones – A Poem by Charumathi R. Rao  

Heavy Stones and Dry Bones – A Poem by Charumathi R. Rao

 

Stone rolled awayShe walked down the dusty path, very early on that Sunday morn,

A bag of spices in her hands, teary faced and heart forlorn.

She’d seen him stripped and beaten blue, a crown of thorns upon His head,

All He’d said had seemed so true, but then He still did end up dead.

 

A hasty burial did no justice, to a man beloved and so adored;

So, with the spices and some friends, she walked to His tomb, down that road.

A heavy stone they’d rolled across, the tomb to shut and seal it well,

They’d posted guards to add to the loss, just in case some mischief fell.

 

“Now, who shall roll that heavy stone?”, she worried as they walked along;

She knew it was a heavy stone, and they surely needed someone strong.

But when they reached the place she saw, the open tomb, an empty grave,

And in the place of a body dead, the risen Savior she found instead…!

 

A broken seal and scattered guards, the heavy stone was rolled away,

Her tears of sadness turned to gladness, joy in place of utter dismay.

Overwhelmed and hope renewed, ran Mary, to declare that day,

That no heavy stone could hold Him down, not even death could block His way…!

 

And since that day, this hopeful news, remains the same and very true;

That Christ is risen from the dead, and His love our life’s rescue…!

We too can know, as Mary learned, and John and Peter, got to glean,

Nothing can stop, our risen Lord, no matter what, the dreary scene.
 

And so, my friend, what lies upon, your burdened, weary heart today?

What is the tomb you face with fear? What worries now, hold you prey?

What heavy stone, now shuts the tomb? And in the guarded tomb what lays?

Are they crushed hopes? Dreams in repose? Or prayers that are much delayed?

 

What valley do you have to cross? What dusty dry bones do you see?

What grief has held you captive long? What cares and worries do you flee?

What red sea now, stands in your way? Or are you in, a lengthy drought?

What’s that thing, you cannot bring, yourself to hope, once more - about?

 

If He can set the captives free, the blind to see and lame to walk;

If He can calm, the stormy seas, and even cause the mute to talk;

If He can bring the kingdoms down, and sets up kings upon their thrones,

What are heavy stones for Him or a valley full of dry bones?

 

So, whatever be, the tomb you face, shut and sealed, with heavy stones,

And whatever may, your valley be – that’s now filled, with dry bones,

Come - cast your cares, upon the Lord, For He’s alive and oh so well,

He’d fight for you and guard your soul, His victories you, will live to tell.

 

If He fought for, the saints of old, and proved His power, to Ezekiel and Mary,

He’d do much more, for you and me, if we’d seek His will, pray and tarry,

For He is faithful, true, mighty and able; alive and seated on His throne;

So, what are heavy stones for Him or even a valley full of dry bones?


Resurrection Weekend

My friends, 

Tomorrow we must bring to our remembrance ALL that was accomplished in three days by our Lord, Jesus, the Christ. Good Friday always leaves me feel somber. And it is good to feel in that way because of what happened to Jesus. 

BUT.... Of for the joy set before him.....

Tomorrow I want to share some little known information about what happened on Friday and about the blood of Jesus. Tune in for a short video and allow yourself to truly apprehend the work of the crucifixion and the Cross of Christ. Hugs, Lynn

Tomb and cross


What Does Hosanna Mean - Passion Week Starts Now!

SUM Passion Week 2021SUM Nation. Lynn Donovan here.

Gang, it’s TRIUMPHANT ENTRY Sunday. Do you know on this day the people of Israel believed their Messiah arrived. AND INDEED HE DID.

This story is very familiar to Christians world-wide, but there is so many nuances and unsaid statements that we completely miss.

Here is one. The disciples and Jesus sat down for a Seder. We call it the last supper. Seder is Hebrew meaning Passover. Did you know that they reclined at the table to eat as a reminder that they were free, not slaves in Egypt. So many, many things have meaning and power.

Did you know there were thousands along a one-mile route into Jerusalem? They were shouting

Hoshea-na. Hosanna.

Hosanna means: SAVE US NOW!

The English spelling of Hoshea-na, means Deliver Us Now. Derived from the Hebrew root as Y’Shua, the Hebrew name of Jesus. The ending -na is something we do not have a translation for in English.

It demands, NOW! Or Please, I pray you. Or Behold!

Literally they were shouting: JESUS NOW!

The palm frond greeting was done on the sixth day of the Feast of Sukkot, welcoming the reigning Messiah to assume the throne in Jerusalem.

Every single person in that crowd knew what was happening and believe in Y’Shua as their Messiah.

_____

Who could use some saving RIGHT NOW?

Hosanna, Our King come NOW! If we don’t cry out the very rock will echo our Savior’s name.


Let’s begin the Passion week with PASSION!

What has Y’shua saved you from and what is He saving you from now? See you in the comments. We have a whole week planned. Meet us here every day. Hugs, Lyn

HE IS RISEN. HE IS RISEN, INDEED!  Hosanna!

Luke 19: 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:

“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”


Lynn Here. I'm Sorry!

SUMites,

Several of you over the past few weeks have tried to make a donation to the 501(c)3 ministry that supports this ministry. 

The PayPal button malfunctioned and created a donation amount that was not your intention. Yikes and what a pain. I promise this wasn't me.  So SO sorry. eep! I created a new Donation Button and it's now in the sidebar. 

Anyhoo, please accept my apology.

And I truly appreciate every single one of you who gives to keep this ministry going. 

Father, thank you for each person who serves, gives, logs in, who offers their financial support. Bless them today with abundance, provision, increase and their coffers overflowing with your goodness. Bless them to know that I love them and you see every penny they give to further the hope and the Gospel of Jesus Christ! AMEN

Love you, Lynn

Three Keys QR Donation Code


A Wave is Coming

Hello friends, Ann here!Record

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

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

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

Now, here's the next word:

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

A great wave is coming.

Many souls to be claimed and collected.

Watch and see.

My heart is always for the many.

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

Wave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love,

Ann


Jesus, I can't see past my SUM!

Happy Friday, friends -- Ann here!Record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tall corn in our immediate view.

The fact Jesus is next to us.

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

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

Phew!! It's a rich picture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ann


The Harvest - The Many!

Dear friends, Ann here! Record

One of the things I’m currently thinking about is the word 'Harvest' and how it relates to all we have been through in this community.

I guess I feel we've been prepared through some pretty gruelling training (i.e., the challenges of a spiritual mismatch), and that training has equipped us to carry the Gospel outwards more -- Soon.

Here in our little home on the web, we've been learning to love. Specifically, we have learnt how to love our spouse well, and to love the church. Our SUM has been a deeply refining experience – We can all attest to that! But now it may be that we take that love and carry it outwards more.

I could write an essay on what a faith difference in marriage has done for my own character. Where would I begin? For me, perhaps the biggest thing has been to overcome cowardice when carrying the Gospel. People can be scary but I've become brave: Brave about stepping out for God (even if I am inwardly quaking!) For you it may be something else.

I can also say that I have come to understand why others don't believe or submit, and how to fight for another person’s soul. I’ve learnt to Win Without Words and to March Around Jericho. Phew, what a ride!

But now, several books and fifteen years of blog posts later, here we sit waiting for the dust to settle from a year-long pandemic; and perhaps we can say that we are now equipped to march forth. We are ready to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ forward, and to be used by God in whatever way he plans.

To that I say, ‘Here I am, Lord, send me!’ and I know the hearts of many here say the same.

With all that in mind, today I would like to share a quote from our archives. This is something that Dineen wrote a few years ago. She said:

“We have a unique calling that goes beyond us, beyond our marriages. As I’ve shared before God is a redeemer. He wastes nothing. We’ve been thinking and believing that our calling is right in our homes, in our marriages. And God is saying, that is just preparation for a greater movement that He is getting us ready for. God is calling us to believe Him like we never have before.”

I’d particularly like to grab these words and run with them:

We’ve been thinking and believing that our calling is right in our homes and our marriages. And God is saying, that is just preparation for a greater movement that he is getting us ready for.

Dineen then went on to say this:

“Early last year, we received an email from a reader that her husband had come to Jesus. A tearful and joyful moment to be sure. As I praised God, I heard Him speak to my spirit, “This is the first of many.” Harvest

That was Dineen. I always loved reading her words from the Lord as she had a beautiful relationship with Him. And now today I seize these words and say once again: "Yes, we believe there will be many!"

We’re waiting for many, many spouses here to receive Jesus; we’re also waiting for many children within our homes; and we’re waiting for friends and others in our lives. But I believe that God has promised us the many.

The harvest! It's exciting.

I'm smiling here, and cheer you on from my little corner. I know how deep you have dug and how tough the soil has been. So, for now, here's a question:

Do you look back on your SUM and recognize ways that it has made you more useable to God?

Sending you love today!

Ann


How To Enter Into Intimacy with Father, Jesus, Spirit ZOOM SEMINAR

Zoom Meeting Lynn Donovan comHi SUMITE NATION:

Lynn Donovan here:

So many people struggle to hear the Lord. They want their prayers answered and it feels like there isn't a response. This is often due to the fact that praying is at the core - RELATIONSHIP. If you don't know how to enter into that relationship, your prayer life will feel inadequate and a one way conversation with little satisfaction and often great frustration. 

Learning how to enter into the Presence is the Key to everything in the spiritual. 

There was a good deal of interest in the Intimacy Seminar over on my Lynn Donovan Ministry site, let's DO IT. 

In this seminar I will teach you the way to enter into the Presence of God. The teaching will include the scriptures, have your Bible ready, a pen and paper. We will cover what the blocks are that denies you access to the Presence. We will also learn about first fruits and how that passage is very powerful in our prayer life. There will be a couple of interactive activations.

The LIVE ZOOM meeting will be next Thursday, March 18th at 11 am PACIFIC TIME. I'm going to charge $10. This will help me pay for the Zoom renewal this year. THANK YOU! 

This also means that those who are really interested make an investment and will be ready to learn. WAHOO!!

If you can't make it, purchase the seminar and I'll email a link to watch after it is recorded.

I can't wait to walk beside you as you deepen your faith journey and learn to talk with God. Hugs, Lynn

Intimacy with God Seminar $10.

The Harvest Ahead

Dear friends, Ann here.Record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUMites, you are in training to be harvesters!

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

What do you have for me in the days ahead?

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

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

Ann


God's Promises from the SUM Archives

Ann here! Record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 105:17-19, ESV)

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to chatting more about this one!

Ann


Pray This Prayer For Your Family and Marriage

There are times we need to lean on other’s prayers. And today, I have a prayer that God gave me recently to pray for my home and family. Lean on it. Pray it aloud in your prayer time. Pray it often. It truly is from the Lord. Save it in your notes on your phone. Take it out and pray it as often as God reminds. Hugs, Lynn

 

Praying HandsFather, I come in the name of Jesus to Your Mercy Seat today to receive mercy and help. Today, I ask You, Father, to bless my home with the Shalom of heaven. Bless my family with divine health. Protect all of us from all evil assaults against our bodies, soul, spirit, mind, will and emotions.

Lord, decree and bless my marriage that we operate intentionally within a partnership of unity. Bless us with the spirit of mutual honor, love, respect and kindness. Bless our marriage to be filled with a spirit of cooperation and unity. Bless us to love one another with our words and our body language.

Lord bless my children with curiosity, with self-discipline and help me to also cultivate creativity, independence and self-responsibility and a hunger for God within their minds and hearts.

Bless us with a fierce protection and love for one another. Bless us to smile, to laugh and to uplift each other. Bless us with Your Presence and speak into our lives Your hope, truth and goodness.

In Jesus’ name. AMEN


A Letter From Jesus. You Need This Today!

My Beloved Child LetterSUMites,

This post is for the weary. This post is for those who have been in the trenches and can’t feel their toes, their nose, and struggle at times to think clearly. This post is for those who feel hope draining from their future, and dreams appear dashed.

This post is for all the warriors of the Kingdom of light!

Sit down, sip your java or tea, buckle in because our Jesus is about to love on you.

My dear child, You are NOT alone. I haven’t abandoned you and left you to live a life without hope. I am in the very room with you protecting and comforting when there is conflict, discord and demonic interference. I perceive as words of condemnation fly about your mind. And yet you continue to press into the life-giving words of truth that I speak from the Holy Word of God.

Believe MY WORDS. They are life!

You have wrestled with doubt and despair but arise each morning into the newest of mercies that I purchased for you. You are on my heart. I delight in your children. I even love that ornery spouse who behaves without honor or sensibilities toward you at times.

I know you feel you fail many times. Hear me now, you don’t. You wade through the unknown and the frightening with such courage and conviction, determined to bring the best to your home, your family and your heart.

Lay down your self-criticisms and the word curses and false accusations spoken toward you by others. Hear My truth: I approve of you. You are living your best effort and as you arise every morning to face more hardship, I am holding your hand. I literally stand with you throughout the day and whisper truth, hope and love into your heart and I change your life.

You are braver than you will ever know this side of heaven. Your prayers over power all the blackest of assignments from the hellish demons. You arise and bring with you hope for your family, your church and community.

This brings me the greatest joy!!!!!

I offer you a glimpse into your future. Hear me say unto you this day: WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANTS. Enter into the Father’s rest.

I am your Savior, your Shepherd, your Rabbi, your Bridegroom Prince. All is well my beloved. All is well!

My friends, this flew off my fingers. I’m humbled to have written it. I believe every word for myself and for you. Hallelujah.

I love you. Lynn


SUM Community 2021 - Marching Forward!

Dear SUM family, Ann here.Mountain

I hope you are relishing the moments from last week's community fast. I’m still smiling at it all.

And now we turn our minds towards 2021 in earnest.

As you know, I’ve been praying about this coming year for us. But somewhat surprisingly, it seems that the word God wanted me to share for 2021 takes our minds off our families a little. Perhaps the pressing issue now is that we need to cope with a challenging year ahead regardless of what is happening with our spouses. So, here is what the Lord seems to be saying right now:

SUMites, come up higher. Come and learn more from Me about being part of My remnant!

The remnant? This one is an interesting phrase. It refers to those who keep their love for God burning (Matthew 25:1-13), and who will never allow themselves to fall asleep spiritually. They hold a fire in their hearts for Jesus, are willing to go deep with the Holy Spirit, and will always try to obey the Father, however uncomfortable. It’s a heart attitude, and from it flows a strength that will fortify us in what is going to be a turbulent year.

The way God gave me this word was through a vision, so I will share a little of that. In it I saw a bird’s-eye view of his remnant spread across the Mountain of the Lord. But they were not a congregated crowd. Instead, they were in groups of two, three, or four, scattered. Further, they were dressed in dark red, the color of Jesus’s blood.

The sense I had was that the Father smiled on these ones. In his eyes they were lovely.

Then I heard the Lord speak something else alongside this vision:

"Too many Christians do not enter the inner sanctuary of holiness. They stay in the outer court of the temple because it is comfortable there for them. They prefer their own comfort over walking with me."

My friends, it’s as if God is encouraging us today: Be My remnant. And keep going. You have come so far, beloved SUMites.

In our marriages, we’ve already been so brave. We’ve dared to be Jesus’s regardless of our spouse’s views. But I guess God is leading us towards even more. Like those little clusters of two or three people in my vision, we might find we swim upstream and/or walk alone with a few other remnant friends.

What’s more, the dark red color of the remnant says this: The blood of Jesus is the message. The message of his blood is that there is no other way to salvation but by repentance. It is his blood and sacrifice that brings abundant life. Will we stand up for it?

Finally, the Lord gave me three points to think on, things that characterize his remnant. And these have really got me thinking. They are:

  • Spend time in worship – He says if we spend time in private worship, he will bring the nets full of fish in!
  • Spend time lingering with him. It is this time that will lead to us carrying a greater measure of his presence.
  • And third, an obedient heart is one thing, but so is standing in the Lord's counsel. It’s possible for any of us, as Christians, to think we are being ‘obedient’ to something, but not be within his will (yikes). God's counsel is what directs us to speak the right words at the right time and place. So we need to practice hearing his voice as well as deeply engaging with scripture, then help others do the same.

Ahh … What a challenge.

Ultimately, perhaps a key message here is: The higher we go with him, the safer we will be. And he's got us. He is going to be holding us tight this coming year.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this remnant word when you get the chance – Whether in the comments, or by just touching base on email or Facebook messenger (feel free to friend me on Facebook.) And let’s keep praying!

With love,

Ann


SUM Fast Day Five: Walking with Jesus into 2021

Dear SUMites, SUM fast 2020

Ann here on our final day of the fast. We've made it!

It's Friday morning here and my brain is pretty foggy. Yesterday I began to find I could no longer construct proper sentences due to lack of food, which caused my boys a great deal of laughter. That's how hard this thing is.

Amazingly, I've managed these five days with no food. It has been quite the exercise: It has been tough doing all the usual 'Mum' activities (e.g., taking my kids places) in such a state. Still, fasting is a state where you 'afflict your soul' (Leviticus 16:29-31), so that's the deal.

We've talked a lot about our individual purpose this week. I've so enjoyed reading your comments - Really, really enjoyed reading them.

And now, to finish off the fast how about we take communion together? Here's a photo of mine, a little glass of juice and a cracker. Perhaps at some point today we could each make ourselves a communion meal and take it. Communion

A prayer:

Lord Jesus, you are the potter and I am the clay.

I thank you for your blood shed on the cross and your body broken.

I align myself with the words of purpose you have shown me this week, and I ask you to help me walk in them.

Finally, help me be a good ambassador for you in 2021.

My SUM friends, I send you much love. Thank you for journeying on this fast this week, what a special week. I hope you thoroughly enjoy eating food again, and we'll connect again after the weekend. In my next posts I might share a little about what I seemed to hear from the Lord for 2021.

For now, do you have any final stories to share from your week of fasting? Anything that God has shown you? We'll chat in the comments.


Fast Day Four: Which Bible Character Captures Your Journey?

Ann here today, on Thursday morning, day four of our fast. SUM fast 2020

How are you all doing?

So far, I’ve had no food since Monday sunrise and am feeling doddery. Time with the Lord at this point is simply about ‘being’. I don’t have mental sharpness so am floating around the house, popping on a bit of worship music, and doing little else.

I think Bryce secretly likes this quiet wife!

Today I wanted to float a little idea, and it comes wrapped in a story of something that happened a few years ago. It's this:

If God ever gives you the name of a Bible character, it might be an indication of how he sees you and the kinds of experiences or tasks he might have ahead for you.

Now, here’s the story. A few years ago, I woke with a phrase in my head: ‘You are specifically Elizabeth’. A phrase like this is so unusual it would seem to be God, so I duly went to the story of Elizabeth in the Bible. Mm, it didn't mean anything. So I put it on the shelf and left it.

However, weeks later I was having a sick day, lying on my couch, and I put on a podcast by Graham Cooke called ‘How God speaks through scripture’. I laid back with my eyes closed and listened while Graham recounted a personal story. In this story, God had told him he was a kind of ‘Caleb’. That was interesting, but then he said this:

“If God gives you the name of a Bible character it tells you how you are known by him. Expect to have some of the same experiences as that person.”

As he said that, I sat up -- 'Ohhh - Elizabeth!'

Speedily I lifted myself from the couch, got my Bible, and devoured her story. This time it made sense. I pulled towards me a special notebook I happened to have just received as a gift, and started to write my thoughts. Notably, Elizabeth was someone who carried a promise while keeping others company. Her name means ‘God has promised’. Importantly: She had a mute husband whose mouth later opened miraculously to declare that Jesus is Lord.

‘I’ll take that!’ I said to the Lord. And it was a moment of awe. 

Months later, Bryce and I were on a plane together, and I started to drift off to sleep. My head lolled over towards his shoulder and as it did so, I heard a phrase from the Holy Spirit: ‘God remembered.’

Once home, I looked up the meaning of the name Zacharias, Elizabeth’s husband. I didn’t know it before. It means: ‘God remembered.’

Boom!

All of this has since morphed into more of a guiding word for my life. I guess I've learned to be content while I wait for my husband's faith. But ‘Elizabeth’ has helped me understand the kinds of things I enjoy talking about, and why I get connected with certain people. Often I make friends with people who have an impossible promise, like Mary, and my job is to say 'I believe you.' I LOVE that job. Made for it.

The moral, perhaps, is that there is a lifting that comes from understanding who we are in God’s eyes. It is one thing to know our identity in Jesus Christ as a son or daughter (sonship). But it is also important to understand our unique purpose. 

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me when as yet there were none. How precious also are your thoughts towards me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake I am still with you.” (Psalm 139:17-18, NKJV)

So the question today, perhaps, for the Lord might be something along the above lines. Something to ponder. You could even ask him the following:

Lord, is there a particular Bible character that can tell me a little about how you see me?

I'm looking forward to chatting more in the comments. What has this week been like so far for you? Let's share!


FAST DAY THREE - TWO PRAYER POINTS

Prayer and Fasting 2021My SUMer friends,

I have LOVED Ann’s posts for this fast. I literally teared up yesterday. So touching.

I am thrilled to lead today’s focus for our prayer and fasting. This is the midweek stretch. It will be very difficult today. But press in. I’m finding I’m overwhelmed by tremendous fatigue. Weird. I think it’s more spiritual than physical. So, I have a large cup of tea present most of the time and I’m making myself sit with my laptop. Need to finish this next book!!! Thank you, Jesus.

Two things. I can’t ignore the significance of what is happening in America today. Please pray for America. What happens today and the weeks ahead have long lasting implication upon our world, our faith and freedom, and our future.

Today let’s ask Papa what purpose is ahead for us in 2021. Ask Him for a word. In years past my good friend, Dineen, would ALWAYS receive a word for her year. This never happened to me. However, I wrote about my first word in Marching Around Jericho.

So, let’s ask the Lord about the Word that is written over our lives right now.

Also, ask the Lord this question. Father, what is your purpose for me this year?

Please, PLEASE, write what you hear, your word, purpose and more in the comments.

I will echo each of them as a witness in the heavens. I love all of you deeply. Keep pressing in as breakthrough is imminent. Love and hugs, Lynn


Fast Day Two: The Tenderness of the Father

Ann here! SUM fast 2020

It’s the morning of day two here, and so far so good. Amazingly, my family are talking about ‘Mum’s fast’ and encouraging me along, which has been a new feature this year and it captures how things have shifted in my home. I have a little more to share on that shift below.

First, though, I want to say that it's common to set a goal with fasting and find you don't make it. It's just so hard to fast -- That's the truth of it. If that's you, don't beat yourself up and think it's a failure. It's not. Just get back on the horse and try again the next day. It's definitely worth continuing.

The truth is, our Father smiles on the heart of one who fasts. And this morning I'm reminded of a little story that seems to illustrate that:

Every Christmas, Bryce and I put pressies under the tree for our teenage boys, Travis and Miles, and that’s fun. But I’ve never encouraged my children to buy me a present or even buy their Dad a present. I just haven’t; and so they haven’t. Instead, the boys and I go out and buy something for Bryce from all three of us and we have fun doing it.

Anyway, this year, those two boys did something very nice.

I was sitting in the lounge when Miles (age 14) said to me “Mum, you haven’t yet noticed what’s under the tree.” So I got up and looked. There, under the tree was a little package, clearly wrapped by a teenage boy. Wrinkley, ragged edges, and Sellotape all over the place. It said, “To Mum, from Travis and Miles”. And there, next to it, another package: “To Dad …”. 

Oh my heart. I looked back at my boy and his face showed how excited he was by this little wrinkled package. Thankfully he still doesn’t mind a cuddle from his Mum, and he got one.

The two of them had clubbed together their pocket money, gone out and done it. Teenage boys aren’t always the best at this sort of thing, nor is it at all easy parenting teenagers, and so I really can’t express how it felt to see that package. It was their little gesture of love and it meant the world.

Later in bed, Bryce and I looked at each other: “How CUTE WAS THAT?” We were giggling at the wrapping job, but then we both said in all seriousness that it was pretty much the highlight of our year.

Turning back now to the heart of our Father, a friend of mine recently said to me "We may never truly understand the tenderness of the Father until we reach Heaven". Our Father is tender, and how does He feel when we – His children -- do something like fast? It’s our gesture of love, devotion, and honor to Him.

So now here's more on that shift I mentioned:

“Why do you fast?” Bryce asked me yesterday.

“Well ..  It’s a gesture of love to God. To go without food is a sacrifice.”

“Mm, now you say that I can imagine it.” he said. “Food is a big deal.”

I carried on:

“God shines his face on someone when they make a gesture like that. It might be attractive to him, so to speak. Power comes, things happen in your life then.”

And then I said a bit more:

“Jesus said certain things can only be shifted through prayer and fasting. So fasting is powerful in that way – It can help people overcome certain challenges …”

“Hmm, interesting.” He nodded and took it all in. Perfectly nice; genuine interest. What's more, I didn't feel awkward talking about it.

A lot has shifted there. We didn’t have that kind of conversation a few years ago as faith conversations used to bring this mega wedge between us. But now it’s easier. And, quite honestly, I am enthralled by that change which has happened in only the last year.

Could it be that even this conversation yesterday with my husband is a testimony that the SUM fasts have made a difference? A gentle nod from the Father's tender heart. I'll take it.

Onwards and upwards, SUM soldiers, and I wish you all the best for day two. What has day one been like for you?


Fast Day One: What is the Story God Has Written?

Dear SUMites, here we are on day one of our SUM corporate fast! SUM fast 2020

It's Ann here and I can’t help but think that this particular fast is going to be meaningful. There is so much for us to inquire from God about. Our world is literally groaning for healing, and so are we. 

So we fast.

As I write I have a cupboard and fridge full of drinks, ready to embark on a brave five days. No food from sunrise Monday to sunset Friday. I will keep you posted on how this goes. I know from our chats that many of you are doing this fast. In the spirit, then, we link arms.

During this week, one theme I hope to talk to God about is this:

Lord, what do you want the SUM community to know for this coming year?

To elaborate a little, this year the Body of Christ has been blessed by ministries that have spoken out about the time we’re in. And then, as always, there have been some counterfeit versions of that. Privately, as Christians we seek the Lord’s wisdom ourselves in prayer, and the counsel of Christian friends we trust. But the whole thing has been an exercise in discernment. It's been a year-long journey in understanding what God is asking of us.

We’ve also had to learn through our mistakes. Many of us might be looking back thinking ‘Oops – I didn’t represent Jesus accurately to every single person in my life.’ Honestly, this year has been crazily tough – Let's have grace for ourselves. Onwards.

So there’s that. 2020. In the middle of it all, we have our own little community here at SUM, and here we can ask God for a customized picture:

Lord, what is your heart for the SUM homes in 2021?

How do we walk the upcoming challenges of 2021 with our pre-believing spouses?

In my own faith life, a striking feature of 2020 has been that I have thought a lot about the story God has written for my life. He seemed to nudge me often during this COVID stress: "Come away with Me, daughter, and take your mind elsewhere for a while. Here's what I want you to think about in relation to your life." I recently chatted to Ian and know that he has been experiencing something similar. And then, over on Lynn’s new ministry blog (www.lynndonovan.org), Martha has been blogging about moving into new seasons. So, many of us are having those stirrings.

With that idea of ‘life story’ and ‘what’s next?’, I thought I might gear this week’s posts around the fact that God has a really interesting story he has written over our lives, and he wants us to find out about it.

I believe that's one of several things that Jeremiah 6:16 conveys, along with Holy living: 

Thus says the Lord: 

"Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' " (NKJV)

Perhaps you think about your own life and feel you went off God's map at some point in the past as a prodigal (so many of us have that story). So then, that’s a detour and the question for God is ‘Now what?’ Somehow, because God is awesome, beyond what we can think or imagine, and blows our minds, could it be that he will bring you, through Plan B, back into his purpose for you?

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, NKJV)

My friends, how about we make a point in day one of our fast to come before the Lord and ask him some of these personal, delightful questions? 

  • Lord, what are the good works you made for me to walk in? 
  • Lord, what did you make me to be from before the beginning of time?
  • What is your purpose and will in my marriage?
  • Would you tell me something new and profound about my life story?

As for the fast, what kind of fast are you doing this week and what would you like to ask the Lord? Let's share a little about what we hope this week will look like.


Prepping for Our Fast

Ann here! Lynn Donovan Prayer & Fasting 2021

With Christmas festivities behind us, and hopefully some happy memories made, it’s time to turn our minds to our annual SUM Community Fast.

The fast will start in a week’s time, on Monday 4th January. If you haven't already, check out my video from last week.

Personally, I’m so in need of this year’s fast. Because of what we’ve been through with the pandemic, I have an especially strong desire to get before God and reflect on where we're at. When vulnerable from fasting, you just can’t help but hit the couch and listen to Him more than usual. And though fasting is very difficult, that is the benefit I know will come next week.

Every time we fast as this SUM community, at least a few of us will hear something from the Lord and post it in the comments. In fact, I look back on the years and remember many of the conversations or moments we’ve had together from these times.

Besides hearing God, fasting does something in the spirit realm and brings shifts in our homes. What power comes when a group of people does it together! We probably can't imagine this side of Heaven. Jesus said that some things from the enemy can only be removed through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). These shifts aren't always noticeable straight away, but sometimes they are.

So, how do you feel about going for it this year? If you're new to it, here are some tips for preparing:

  • Ask God how he would like you to fast. You could fast each day sunrise to sunset, and then have a small dinner in the evening. This is a good challenge. Another way is to just have soup for five days -- That is harder. And, if you're a seasoned faster you could try no food for five days. This one takes some mental preparation.
  • Jot down a list of questions for God, or things you’d like to talk to him about over that week, and dig out a special notebook and pen ready for the week.
  • Make sure you have plenty of drinks in the house.
  • Pray about telling your spouse, and if you want to tell them ask for God's help. It took me a few fasts before I plucked up the courage to tell my husband -- I feared he'd find it just that little bit too weird. However, when I finally did tell him he was fine. Puzzled, but fine. Last year he even took me out for a smoothie to help me keep going!
  • If you are on holiday or have guests over, plan ahead which meals you'll fast from: Setting fasting goals ahead of time seems a good strategy.
  • Don’t plan too much exercise or activity during that week. That might send you over the edge!
  • Get yourself some super comfy clothes at the ready (e.g., track-pants) so that you can hunker on the floor or on the couch for that nice time with God. Somehow, I find comfy clothes help me get through!

As for over here, I will be home quietly with my boys who are on school holidays. I plan to tell them and Bryce so that they understand my inertia that week, and I hope to do no food at all for the five days. Having attempted this a few times it's perhaps not as intimidating as it used to be. I know its power so I’m game. I’ll still have coffee and tea, juice, protein shakes, and yoghurt drinks. Some here even go further than that, doing water only. I have to say I'm building up to that still.

So, team SUM, are we up for it? Post in the comments and share what you think you’re going to do. It’s fun doing this together and we always love seeing each other’s adventures on this week.

Lynn will be posting next on Friday, and then I'll be back on Monday to kick us off with the fast.

Ann


The Once Was A Man Who Didn't Believe

It's been a number of years since I've shared this post. But it speaks to me today. I pray it speaks to you as well. Merry Christmas, Lynn

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Author Unknown

 


The Soul Redeemer - A Note From Dineen Miller

Dineen Miller 2 2010Hello SUMITES!

I’m thrilled to be here today! I’ve missed you dearly and it’s been so wonderful to continue to watch this community grow under Ann’s wonderful leadership. When Lynn asked me to share my newest book release, I was overjoyed, because it’s the conclusion to Lexie and Hugh’s story.

When I wrote The Soul Saver, my heart was to write a story to compliment Winning Him Without Words, much like the movie Fireproof and the book The Love Dare were meant to compliment each other. And over the years many have asked me if I would be writing a sequel to The Soul Saver to finish Lexie and Hugh’s story.

Well, I’m happy to share with you that The Soul Redeemer has officially released. It’s a shorter book, a novella actually, that tells the rest of Lexie and Hugh’s story.

And their story is still ours, my friends. We live it every day. 

Her artwork is guided by faith. He’s a non-believer. Will their relationship survive a demon knocking at their door?

In The Soul Saver my goal was to show the spiritual warfare we deal with in our mismatched marriages. In The Soul Redeemer my goal was to show how we win! Lexie leans to step into her authority and Hugh begins to question his atheism.

I pray this story encourages you, my friends. I’m still very much in the battle with you. As I wrote this story, my husband and I hit some really rough patches of disagreement through this pandemic and the election. Once again, the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy, but he lost again as my husband and I determined to stay in a place of love. Not easy but we made the daily decision to do it.

God’s love always wins because His love is the very essence of Who He is, the Great I Am. And He never fails.

I hope you’ll check out the rest of the story, dear friends.

I have two copies of the The Soul Redeemer I’d love to give way.

Just leave a comment and Lynn will pick the winners.

Be blessed!

Dineen

The-Soul-Redeemer-Kindle (002)About The Soul Redeemer:

Tobias is back and determined to win.

Lexie has no idea why Nate is flying back from China, only that his text said it’s urgent. His face is the one God led her to sculpt. That can only mean he’s her next assignment.

Upon his arrival, Nate is stunned to see Lexie is pregnant. He knows what she and Hugh went through when they lost their  little girl several years ago, and can only imagine what lays behind the hint of fear he sees in her eyes. But a warning has brought him back to the States—one he hates to deliver but knows he must.

Tobias is back.

Though still teetering on the edge of faith, Hugh is focused on his future as Department Chair of Physics at Stanford University and the impending arrival of their daughter. Yet he finds an astonishing ability to welcome Nate back into their lives—something he didn’t think possible after what happened in the past.

Tobias is back and determined to claim Hugh’s soul. And his plan of destruction includes putting Lexie and her unborn child in jeopardy. As Lexie and her baby girl fight live, an unexpected visitation brings hope to Lexie that her baby girl will survive. But will Lexie survive to tell Hugh about it?


Church, We Are Crossing Over!

Dear friends, Ann here! Crossing the Jordan

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

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

Sitting … waiting … watching … seeking Him. 

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

(Habakkuk 2:1, NKJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Deuteronomy 11:11-12, NKJV)

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

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

Love to you all,

Ann


On Shedding the 'Unequally Yoked' Badge

Hello friends, Ann here!Badge

It's been a couple of weeks since I last wrote, but in my last post I shared a story from our archives where the Holy Spirit had given us a caution about using the ‘unequally yoked’ label too much. To catch up, you can read that post here. Today I'm interested in chatting a bit more about that -- the 'unequally-yoked' badge.

I certainly can relate to the issue of using the 'spiritually mismatched' label a little much. As a woman, I share my feelings easily with others, and when I’m with other Christians I talk about my faith challenges. Well, the spiritual mismatch is the major challenge, right?

Except … it’s easy to mention this thing to any Tom, Dick or Harry at church and suddenly we’re allowing them into our marriage, which is a private space. That thought makes me sad. I think my husband would hope that doesn't happen.

I guess over the years I’ve become more wary about sharing this precious and difficult thing that Bryce and I walk. But guarding the tongue takes practice, especially if you are naturally a bit talkative!

As for the label itself, which we do use in the SUM community, what are we to make of the words that the Holy Spirit gave us (mentioned in my last post)? Let's take another look at those beautiful -- and perspective-changing -- words:

Beloved SUMites:

Your marriages are not mismatched or unequally yoked.

Your marriages are Mine.

Your husbands are Mine.

They are Mine.

Words like these are designed by the Lord to give us the mind of Christ. He always sees things differently to the way we naturally do and he will often ask us to lift our eyes above the circumstances. He wants us to walk in hope, peace and joy!

Of course, we can't deny the battle. If we were too euphemistic in our words, people wouldn't be able to find this blog and know we're here to help them deal with spiritual mismatch in marriage. The Bible uses the term ‘unbelieving wife’ and ‘unbelieving husband’ (1 Corinthians 7:14) with honesty. So, we do the same in this ministry to articulate the challenge for others who need help. Even then, I have to say I use the label cautiously (Proverbs 18:21).

Perhaps the issue is not so much about using the label as much as it's about our hearts. If the label is used to minister to other SUMites it's a different thing to us using the label widely and without respect for our spouse. So, while I'm open with SUMites I've become much more guarded when talking with other Christians. If I do talk about it I'll say something like this:

"My husband and I do have a difference in what we believe, but we're still happily married."

“My husband doesn’t go to church with me, so I tend to do that side of things by myself.”

In fact, I had this role-modelled to me a few years ago when I sidled up to an older woman at church. I wanted to ask her about her non-attending husband. All she said was this, smiling:

“You're right, he doesn't come to church. But you know what, he is the most amazing man. It's not ideal, but he's a fantastic husband.” 

I liked that.

Ultimately, what I know is that God sees the end from the beginning. This present moment is not the final answer and when God looks at our marriage he sees its final day and every day leading up to that. As he sees the bigger picture, his word on the matter is this:

Your marriage is not mismatched. It is Mine.

If we can believe these words, our job is then to 'call things that are not as though they were' (Romans 4:17). That is, we can go so far as to say verbally to others: "My husband -- He belongs to the Lord", or "My marriage -- It belongs to God", or perhaps we can even smile to ourselves and think about that declaration of the Holy Spirit: Not mismatched.

My friends, I hope you've found that interesting -- It's been food for thought for me. For now, here's a question: How do you approach this issue when talking with other Christians about your situation and your life? We'll chat in the comments.

Ann


THIS MAY STING! Sorry... Ahem, not sorry????

So, ya….. This post may sting. This is an area that I have confronted over and over again throughout my life.

Bitterness

How do we walk through life and handle the disappointments, the let downs, the betrayals without slipping down the slippery slope into the dark abyss of bitterness?

My friends, I’m telling you, this sly root of the dark realm can destroy a life, a home, a marriage, a child, a church,……. A city, how about a nation???

Recently I’ve been reading a book by Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, and I was taken back by this short sentence:

Bitterness is unfulfilled revenge!

Wow, gulp.

ForgiveWoundedness from others, if left to fester in unforgiveness, will sink into dark bitterness. I’ve seen what this looks like in the spirit. It’s a grayish, festering, dead looking part of a person’s soul. Light goes in but doesn’t reflect back. It’s a pit of endless negative thought cycles. It’s leads a soul to where our love grows cold or non-existent.

The cure for bitterness is the love of Jesus. Honestly, we can’t forgive others from within our own strength. Some of us have been through such horrendous things that true forgiveness is impossible outside of the supernatural power and love of Jesus Christ.

I’ll tell you that through all the years of my spiritually mismatched marriage, I could have held a long list of disappointments against my husband. And they may have even been justified. But, unforgiveness is a prison of our own creation. And it’s through unforgiveness that the demonic realm seizes their greatest strongholds in our lives.

What’s fascinating to me is that many Christians think they have done the work of forgiveness but they aren’t truly free. If they were, the persistent ugly thought cycles would diminish and disappear. Now there is no condemnation here. THIS IS A MOMENT to take a pause and consider your thought cycles. Are they lining up with heaven are they:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. —Philippians 4:8

If we find ourselves standing on the event horizon of the black hole of bitterness, we MUST take action immediately. Repent, ask someone to pray with you. Confess your sins to one another ( James 5:16). Find an accountability partner to help you walk into spiritual health. Spend time with a CHRISTIAN counselor. Schedule a prayer session. Ask Jesus if there is any area where unforgiveness, cold-love or bitterness lingers. Lean on His Supernatural strength, love, and power to bring you into freedom.

Bitterness within a marriage is one of the last nails……

Now I’m not just preaching. Gang, I’ve had to live this out in my own life. With that said, it’s not easy but doable. I know it is because I was especially vulnerable to disappointment. But through the blood and love of Jesus Christ, I can forgive ALL offenses and I walk in powerful faith today.

If Jesus will do this for me, He will do it for you as well. And when you couple forgiveness with love, something wonderful lives in you! It’s the spirit of the Lord! Hallelujah! 

So, my friends, pray in the comments a simple prayer to release yourself. Or pray in the comments that your spouse is released, a child, co-workers, boss, etc. These prayers of forgiveness are absolutely the first step toward wholeness in Christ. I will echo each one.

The opposite of bitterness is:

  • magnanimity
  • sweetness
  • contentment
  • delight
  • balminess
  • warmth

Claim one of these attributes and ask the Lord to immediately supply it into your life as an affirmation of your prayer of faith.

I adore you, Lynn!