114 posts categorized "Victory"

How do I Overcome Feelings of Regret?

Dear SUMites, Ann here. Regret

Quite often I’ll receive an email from a reader saying "Help! I am overcome by feelings of regret about having married out of disobedience to God."

For these dear ones, it is a truly difficult battle, where they are wrangling deeply with the life they've constructed; and, of course, they cannot share these feelings with their spouse.

((Hugs to you if that's you right now)).

Know this: Many in our community have battled this one, and you are not alone. Some were Christians who chose to marry a non-believing partner, suspecting deep-down that it was not God's will. Once married, and once having drawn close to God again, a period of deep reflection and regret follows.

Those who’ve gone through this have asked questions like, ‘What now?'  'Is it possible to celebrate my marriage?’ or, ‘Can my marriage still be blessed?’

Often, they love their spouse dearly; and often the marriage has resulted in beautiful children. This makes it all the more painful and complex.

So, how do we tackle feelings of shame and regret? Well, first of all we are certainly to shed them, after going through a process of reflection. But although we might know in our minds that God has forgiven us, sometimes it is easier said than done to shed intrusive thoughts.

I myself have suffered deep regret over certain things I have done in my life; and sometimes thoughts about those things continue to bubble to the surface and make me groan with regret. Does God want me to marinate in such things? Intrusive, shameful or regretful thoughts are a battle, and I know this. Yet it is hard to remove them.

Well, first of all, for those who married an unbeliever, God has shown our ministry that, although we are to understand the ramifications of that decision and repent where we believe repentance is due, we are to then to walk in our identity as a forgiven child of God. What's more, our love of covenant means that we are to cherish our spouse now -- We made a covenant with them -- and throw ourselves into being the best spouse we can possibly be. This is now what means to be Christian in our homes. It's an exciting and wonderful calling.

That last part is really important and is what it's about to walk well in a spiritually mismatched marriage. As long as our spouse is not abusive and is in the marriage, then we too honor that covenant.

However, intrusive regretful thoughts will still come, and we have to go to battle against those. It is a battle of the mind. So, practically, here's what we do:

  • When a regretful or shame-filled thought bubbles up, say out loud ‘NO! I take this thought captive in the name of Jesus!’
  • Pray each day, ‘Lord, sanctify my mind and give me the mind of Christ.’ Say it loud, for there is power in your tongue.
  • Say, each day, ‘I bless myself with the mind of Christ.’
  • Pray, ‘Jesus, heal me from shameful and intrusive thoughts.’
  • And say, each day: ‘Jesus, show me what lies I’m believing, and show me what the truth is instead.’ 

Part of the battle is having the discipline to do this as frequently as needed. It is easy for our minds to become embattled and infiltrated with ungodly thoughts that try to implant themselves. So, we have to roll up our sleeves and do battle for our minds.

It seems to me that this thing is a real process. Many who walk this particular battle do so for a season, while they grapple with the topic and learn to understand God's heart for them. But then it is done. Once the battle has passed, you can indeed relish the clean page of a new and healthy marriage, knowing that you can be blessed, and that God does honor and support your family. For now you have a new task: To stand in the gap for your family, and to build a house that stands for the Lord.

We do this last part together.

My friends, what has your own process looked like in overcoming regret?

Much love,

Ann


The Key to All This ...

Ann here! Washing up liquid

I said this morning: "What shall I write about today Lord?"

He seemed to whisper back: "Tell them about the key to success."

The key to all this? The key to being an overcomer in your faith life?

The key is: Absorb the Word of God. Drink it in as often as water. Drink it in regularly throughout your day. Meditate on it. Accept it. Believe it. Act on it.

Read it without your own cultural prejudices or ideas of what should be 'right'. If you see something in the Old Testament, for example, that doesn't sit comfortably with our modern-day culture don't judge it: Ask God about it and ask for the 'mind of Christ'. Read it with an open heart. Be willing to have your mind changed. Let the written Word of God do its good work in you. Let it implant itself in you.

My friends, here's a suggestion: Read Psalm 119 and note all the parts that talk about the Word of God and what it means to a believer. Here are a few phrases I underlined in there recently:

Happy are those who keep Your testimonies (v. 2)

I searched You with all my heart (v.10)

I take pleasure in the path of Your testimonies (v.14)

I will meditate on Your precepts and I will watch Your paths (v. 15)

Your testimonies are also my delights (v. 24)

Do for me according to Your word (v. 25)

I have joy in Your word like a man who finds a great treasure (v. 162)

Great is the peace of those who love Your law, and for those they will not fall (v. 165)

Your testimonies are for me a heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart (v. 111)

Oh how I love Your law! All the day I meditate on it (v. 97).

And so on. 

My friends, I think I heard it said once that Billy Graham used to read nothing but the Bible, and leave it open in his home all day long so that he could snack on it throughout the day.

I love that. And, that said, even that is not enough. The Word of God must be combined with an open heart to all that is in it. Ask God specifically to change your lens where it needs to be changed. Pray over your Bible and ask God to remove any lies you are believing in relation to its content. That's important!

From what I understand, it's possible to spend a lot of time in the Bible but not see truth, or not get to know God. The success of our reading hangs on us asking for the Holy Spirit and receiving all we read with an open heart. 

Finally, here is an analogy God gave me:

When you drink in the Word of God it is like drinking washing up liquid ('dish soap' in America!). You will have a bellyful of that soapy strong liquid. I will, in turn, add the water of the Holy Spirit to your belly, and you will bubble up and pour out a cleansing flow of goodness to all around you. That, in turn, will do its purifying work to those in your family and others around you. So drink!

My friends, let's commit afresh to drinking the Word of God as if our lives depended on it. And it will surely do its good work.

... And receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (James 1:21, ESV).

Much love,

Ann


Who Is This Man?

Jesus Easter 2024Who is this man? (Luke 8:25)

Yeshua, the son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)

My brothers and sisters, while in prayer, I have sat on hundreds of beaches with the Lord, and with a hurting or a hungry person who seeks and receives His love, wisdom, and healing. I’ve watched as our Savior holds the hands of a man or woman and releases them from insignificance, rejection, and false identities.

I’ve been in the room when our Savior entered. His presence is overwhelming and so intense, that I tremble. His love, goodness, and power are transformative, so much so, that He realign my thoughts, my disappointments, and sets me back on my feet, steadied on the narrow path.

His voice is tender, patient with us, and when he and the father converse, they share a familiar chuckle as they smile at our progress in our faith walk.

I’ve also experienced the sheer power of Jesus. I have viewed him in his glorified state. The devil appears next to him as a flea, whom the Lord flicks with a finger and he vanishes in fear. Jesus is strong, the ultimate power and ruler overall!

Jesus is my only protector. His blood heals, realigns my DNA, forgives, and blots out the failures of my life. He delivers me from evil.

Jesus is available. He leads us into greater encounters of truth, hope, and overwhelms me with his fathomless love.

My friends, on this, Easter, Sunday, along with millions who live on earth combined with the great cloud of witnesses, who have gone before us, we collectively proclaim our belief and faith in our King!

We declare before all of heaven and earth, that we are in love with an invisible man. We believe in heaven and an afterlife. We know in our hearts that Jesus came in the flesh, died, and arose on the third day. He is seated at the right hand of God.

He is the son of God.
He is the savior of the world.
He came to set the world right and reveal the kingdom of God on earth.
He is our Lord and lead us to our father, Yahweh.

Nothing is too hard for him. There is no sickness, mental struggle, or disease, he cannot heal. No one is too far away that he cannot reach. No devil or evil spirit can defeat him. Never will he leave or forsake you or me.

This is the Jesus we know. This is the Christ we love. This is the king, who we serve now, and for all eternity. 

I’m so thankful for the cross, the whipping post, and His glorious resurrection. I’m thankful with all of my heart Jesus willingly died for me and for you.

Who is this man? Yashua, the son of the living God. He is everything we will need or desire. And finally, and most importantly,

HE is risen!!!!

Just as he said!

Mark 16: 1-7 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”


Spiritual Warfare for the Unequally Yoked

Hi SUM Nation: Important Information below the review:

Lynn Donovan here. Today I want to provide an update regarding the Spiritual warfare book for the Unequally Yoked. It is nearing completion. Here is an early review by one of our own:

“This book is exactly what I needed at the exact right time in my faith walk. So many questions I had were answered and in a way that I could comprehend. Lynn has a clear and straightforward style that is truly a gift.

I feel this book is three books in one. I went through it 3 times! The first read is a breath of air straight through to the end, the second read is to mark all the prayers and prayer prompts, the third read is to notate all of the points to use and apply to my life. I know this book will become an integral part of my faith education.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is ready to have their eyes opened. No more being blinded by the enemy.  No more!” —Karen Sadler, Clovis, CA, USA

Spiritual Enforcer is a continuation of concepts, teaching, and real tools from the book, Marching Around Jericho. If you haven't read through that book, pick up a copy and get started. The foundational concepts of identity and intimacy ARE REQUIRED in order to walk in what I share in Spiritual Enforcer. 

Enforcer is slated to launch in late February. What I share requires spiritual maturity. The concepts and truths from the Word are seldom taught from the pulpit. BUT we need these truths to effectively enforce the will of God in our faith, marriage, and family.

Marching Around Jericho Cover

 

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverI'll share more about the book and the video teaching, I plan to offer, in the weeks ahead. I want all of you to become fully equipped because that is where Jesus is calling the church today. We must be healed, delivered, and empowered for this next great move of God!

Hallelujah! Love you. Get ready... Enforcer will change you. Hugs, Lynn

 

 

 


Excerpt from Spiritual Enforcer: Spiritual Warfare for the Unequally Yoked by Lynn Donovan

Spiritual Enforcer
Potential Cover Spiritual Enforcer

Lynn Donovan here. Hope Thanksgiving was wonderful. Caitie and her fiancé are here for the long weekend. Yep, the girl you grew up reading about is engaged and we love her guy. God is good.

But, I'm so psyched to introduce some cool stuff in front of our once a year giving campaign happening on November 28th, Giving Tuesday.

I'm almost finished with a powerful Spiritual warfare book for all of us. There isn't another book like it on the market. And it's filled with what I've learned to have victory in life, marriage and stand in power and authority over the enemy. An excerpt follows.  And I'm going to offer this book along with some other cool stuff as part of our Giving Tuesday campaign.

Excerpt; Simple prayer to cast anger out of your home:

Is anger a constant in your home? Try taking authority over it every day, out loud, with gusto, during your prayer time and cast it out. Then always follow your command with a blessing. Bless your home with peace, unity, love, gentleness and self-control.

Pray: In the name of Jesus, I stand in the authority, Christ. I bind (Matthew 16:19) every lying spirit, and all spirits of deception and the spirit of Anger and Rage. RIGHT NOW. I command you to leave my home, myself, my spouse (by name) and children (each by name). I repent on behalf of myself, my husband and children for any way we have partnered with anger. Now, I break all legal rights with the demonic realm. I command you to get out now and never return. And as you go, take sarcasm, pride and ignorance with you. There can be no retaliation or replacement spirits. In Jesus name. AMEN

If you want an entire book filled with real prayers that empower you over evil, you can get an advanced copy along with some others cool stuff. Stop by tomorrow and learn more.

Blessings and hugs, Lynn Donovan


If Your Spouse Has Left the Faith ...

Hello SUMites, Ann here.

If your spouse was once a Christian and has since left their faith or gone cold, I want to share something encouraging with you.

Is there hope that your spouse will ever come back? My answer: Yes.

I mentioned on Monday the story of Georgian Banov, whose wife Winnie lost her faith. They were itinerant ministers at the time and he had to carry on in ministry without her by his side. They actually almost got divorced because of it.

Well, here is Georgian's story. It is a long video, and for most of it he is talking about his faith journey more widely. But just after minute 55 the video takes a SUM twist:

The interviewer says: "You and Winnie minister so powerfully now, but it wasn't always that way. What advice do you have for anyone who is on fire for the Lord and their spouse is not?"

Have a listen to what Georgian says about his time in a SUM.


Don't Wanna Do This By Myself!

There's a song that goes -- Ann alone

All by myself, don't wanna be

All by myself, any more.

My friends, that's how I've felt in a SUM. I've felt it so keenly, sometimes.

Don't wanna be, by myself, any more!

Here's a photo that my church popped onto our Facebook page a while back. It's of me, all by myself, standing at the back. A married couple is in front of me. There I am worshipping, solo.

It's a cup I drink. We all have a cup to drink, of some sort or other.

Where I have felt this keenly is in ministry. It is difficult being in ministry alone, and I have found it very comforting indeed to have Lynn, who has the strength of an ox. If I had not had her, it would have been significantly more difficult. She's strong, and you need strong people alongside you.

But, yes, it is the cup that God has asked me to drink: To be in ministry as a spiritually single woman. So, I say in response to that: "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word," (Luke 1:38, NKJV). And I mean it. It's ok. 

Now God is my awesome father and best friend, and he has not left me without encouragement in all this. So let me tell you this rather fabulous story:

One day, about four years ago, I was sitting in my prayer room (the TV room). It was my usual morning time with God, so there I sat on the couch reading the Bible and jotting thoughts down. One thought led to another, though, and I got myself into a state. 

Now, I can do drama well, LOL.

In my bad state I slid dramatically off the couch like a slinky, onto the floor on my tummy, and started to cry. The tears ramped up, and in between hot tears I cried out to God:

WHY DO I HAVE TO DO MINISTRY ON MY OWN?

I was almost angry. It felt so unfair. I think I'd also just seen on Facebook a poster going round with profile photos of lovely couples in ministry speaking at a conference. Yet there was me, having to do it on my own.

Well, at the moment a name popped into my head:

Winnie Banov.

I didn't know who she was, but I'd seen her name float around on Christian things. So, once I'd dried my eyes and pulled myself together, I got up and looked her up. And there I discovered a beautiful story. Are you ready? It will encourage you, especially if your spouse has left the faith:

  • Winnie and her husband were itinerant ministers who were both on fire for God.
  • Then she lost her faith. She was completely missing in action and didn't want a bar of it.
  • She didn't go to church, she didn't support him, she didn't care for it. So he had to carry on in ministry, and they had a big ministry which involved a lot of travel. Brave man!
  • Everyone else in his world was part of a couple, and there he was, ministering on his own. 
  • She was to him an impossible and difficult lost cause. 
  • The only thing he could do was pray, in desperation. It went on for years.
  • He would put his hand on the wall of their bedroom on the other side of the wall (like my TV room which backs onto my bedroom), and he would pray for her while she slept.
  • One day, out of the blue, WOOSH the Holy Spirit came upon her and turned it all around. Suddenly, just like that.
  • And now they're in ministry together again.

I went to see Winnie and Georgian speak in Auckland about a year after discovering that story. I loved watching them minister together as a couple, knowing that story.

Why did God show them to me, I wonder? 

I still don't quite know; but today I am doing well with my cup. It doesn't grieve me anymore. I accept God's will and timing in my life. But I also believe - fully -- that there can be a cheeky little turnaround. And who knows what God has up his sleeve next.

My friends, which parts of SUM life do you find particularly hard to do alone? 

Lovely chatting,

Ann


The Story Behind the Pair-Shaped Promise

My friends, Pair shaped

Thank you ever so much for cheering me on with this book draft I've written. I got quite a few messages from you in the comments and privately, and do you know, that really encouraged me -- To keep going, and get the story out there.

It's Friday early evening as I type, my feet are up, my worship music is on, and now I'm settled in on my couch to tell you the story behind this book. It is rather a gorgeous story.

I wrote part one of this book way back in 2017. It was my testimony: My testimony of being an adult convert, and all that came with that. I described deeply what it meant for my marriage, but also the stunning things God did to show me he was real.

Once a week while Bryce and the boys would go out to swimming lessons I would write one chapter. Chapter by chapter over the following weeks the testimony took shape. But it had a core message that was at the crux of the book:

God had given me a specific promise. Ann Bryce 3

About my husband. And more.

After writing eighteen chapters, one day I heard God say "It's a wrap". Just like that. He was saying to me "Now wrap up this book, put it away somewhere, and I'll tell you when it's time to write part two."

"Should I get it published now?" I asked him.

"No. There's definitely part two," he showed me. "Wait for it.

Wait for it.

Dot dot dot .....

And so I did just that. I decided to wait. 'Part One' of The Pair-Shaped Promise sat wrapped up under my bed while I waited for my promise to come, for six whole years. I barely told anyone about it. But sometimes I would pull the manuscript out and read it as a reminder of where God had taken me, and what I was believing for next. 

Well, my friends, after six years of waiting, God said to me in February of this year, "It's time to write Part Two". He gave me about ten confirmations that this was what I needed to do.

And so I pulled my laptop to me ... And I began to write .... About how the promise was fulfilled. 

Because, my friends, the promise was fulfilled. It did come. It surely came. And I've written barely anything about it yet on the blog, so the book is a special little surprise story for you.

I find myself bouncing on the couch as I type this, in anticipation. But what I'll also say is this: 'Does God ever do things the way we expect him to?

Well, the plan is to get the manuscript proof-read next. Ian has offered to do a read-through too as he's a writer and has judged memoirs in writing competitions: What a blessing to have him. And then I'm thinking of self-publishing it.

On that note, I'd better hurry up and get it done so you can enjoy reading it. For, somehow, I feel this story will be an enjoyable one for you SUMites. You'll 'get' it. 

Well, have a lovely weekend everyone!

Ann


Book of Ephesians -- Chapter Two

My friends, we are now up to chapter two. I love the fact that it is a favorite book of both Lynn and Ian. Doesn’t the book just … glitter … so far? Ephesians 3

It glitters in its promise.

But you know what? The overriding thing about this chapter, for me, was that it gave me a great big portion of humble pie! It humbled me because it made me consider my life before I was a Christian. I can tell you, that life wasn’t pretty.

What were you like in your pre-believing days, I wonder? Me: Well, I was a different Ann to the one you see here. And I’m guessing many of you would say the same.

Verses 1-5 press the point that we all writhed around in an evil state before we became Christians. As children of wrath, we conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh. Thoroughly. All of us.

For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 1 Peter 4:3 (NKJV)

I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me Psalm 51:5 (NKJV)

This fact alone shifts my perspective. See, as the only Christian around often, I can get a bit self-righteous. A bit? Haha .. Mm. I am extremely frustrated by the fact ‘they’re rejecting God’. The way I see it is it’s their free will, and they’re rebelling.

But this chapter reminds me that… ahem… There went I, until HE came and changed me.

How could I possibly boast of what he’s done to me and for me? It was all His doing, the change that happened in me when I converted.

With that fact in place, verses 6-10 specify what He did:

There we were writhing around in our muck, when he swooped down with love, plucked us from the mud, and flew us high, seating us in Heavenly Places and somehow turning us into a ‘masterpiece’ of goodness.

I need to spend some time reflecting on that visual.

Ephesians 2 is all about what HE has done, and verses 11-22 spell it out. He has:

Lifted us up and ‘seated us in Heavenly places’. This speaks of a new elevated view of life, a new positioning.

Made us alive, when we were previously dead. We used to be ignorant, blind, alienated, dead, enemies, a target of God’s wrath, aligned with the enemy, the sons of disobedience, children of wrath, full of the lusts of the flesh, hopeless, without God. No longer! We are ALIVE! And here we are, now, suddenly finding ourselves rich with a heavenly bank account.

Reconciled us to him so that we are no longer far away from him.

Given us access to him. Wow.

Made us into a brand new creation, a masterpiece.

And finally, woven us together with other believers into a living, breathing body – A temple, that carries His presence; a body that shares one Spirit – His Spirit.

It’s all a bit mind-blowing, really. It feels like I’ve gone from a grubby Cinderella slave to a princess.

A page turned, a new leaf, God did this to us:

Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (v. 19).

So here’s a final thought on the household of God:

I mentioned I’m on holiday this week. Well, I’ve had a young friend house-sit who doesn’t have parents around. I wanted her to feel a ‘daughter of the house’, so as I got the house ready I thought of that sentiment. I deliberately told her to just use any food she wanted from the cupboards so that she would feel like my kids feel: At home.

I remember an older lady doing the same for me when I was at uni: ‘Come over and bake!’ she said once, knowing that I was far from home. I felt like a daughter of her house.

Well, we’re sons and daughters of HIS house.

And so we finish another glittering chapter.

Did you enjoy this chapter, SUMites? What does it look like to you to be a daughter/son of God’s house? What else in this chapter particularly spoke to you?


Navigating Church: When We Feel Offended

By Ann Hutchison Pews resized

This week, Lynn and I had a good old chat live on Facebook, about what Jesus is doing in the world right now. It was fun! If you haven't seen it yet, you can catch up here.

In that chat, Lynn said something that I'm going to focus on today as we continue our series on navigating church.

She said: We have to let go of our offense with the church. It's really important that we do that.

Gulp. Big GULP. Can I tell you, that really convicted me? See, I still struggle with offense at the church as a SUMite. In my current church I feel lonely, like I'm 'Nelly No-Mates'. And deep in my heart I get annoyed because of that feeling.

Oh dear, this is going to be a transparent post isn't it? Is it ok to be this transparent as a leader? I think it is. We can admit a failing or a difficult emotion. But then we mustn't feed it. Admit it, but then try to change it.  

Right then, let's elaborate on this, because I know many of you experience this: I get annoyed because I feel invisible at church. It's my SUM situation that makes it so: I don't fit the mold. I am not part of the singles crowd, but I am not part of the couples crowd either. The couples crowd is tight knit and have been friends for years. It takes many hours of time spent with someone to become their friend... I'm not there yet. Central church Ann 1

For all my annoyance, there are moments of deep connection in that church building. Still, offense still tries to hit me relating to how I feel within the family. The SUM situation is a big cause of that: It just makes me different. If my husband were there with me we'd have forged friendships by now. As it is, he's not, and I haven't.

OK then. 

Now, I mustn't feed this offense in church. It's a little demon, and if I do feed it it will get bigger. I could feed it by saying things like 'I have no friends here', or 'I don't fit in.' Or, I could overcome it and say 'NO, I'm not going there with those thoughts; nor am I going to say those things out loud any more.'

It's easy to get offended. Churches are flawed, but hey so are we! They're not good at a lot of things because they're a bunch of humans, but equally we bring with us our baggage and selfish needs. Through it all, the truth is that they are still our family.

The risk is that when we get offended we then are tempted to isolate ourselves. When we isolate we risk developing unusual ideas or make ourselves too susceptible to the enemy's attack. We so need to stay connected.

But we also need to keep our hearts free from offence while we're in those connections. Here are some ideas of how to handle it when offense at the church comes knocking:

  • Say out loud 'I refuse to partner with offense'.
  • Take some time to sit quietly and put ourselves in the shoes of the people at church who we're offended at. 
  • Ask God for help healing from offense, and forgiving
  • If offence comes into our minds, straight away say 'NO!' and cast it away. 
  • Spend some time examining the beauty and positive things in our church.

If a church is particularly unhealthy there IS a place for asking God if we can leave and move into a different church. That certainly happens. But if we are in the church family God has put us into, our job is to steward that placement well, which includes honoring others and staying free of offence. It's a big task but a beautiful one. And what's more, God will love those efforts because that's what it's all about. God knows church is hard; the question is, how are we going to walk it?

This week, my friends, I am going to sit in church and reflect on some of those above bullet points. It will do good.

So that is my Friday thought. Perhaps we can be real in the comments: What have you been offended by, in the past, at church, and how might you overcome that?

Love to you all,

Ann


The Two Visitors, Part Two

My friends, Front door 2

I'm so glad you loved the two visitors randomly knocking on my door in the middle of a cyclone. If you missed part one of that story, it's here. 

Before I carry on, I need to tell you where Bryce was at this point. We had a national emergency going on in New Zealand, there was a cyclone raging outside and the government had told us all to stay at home.

This meant that Bryce was home. He was working in the shed in the back garden and could have come in at any moment to find these two sitting on my couch. 

In addition, my son Miles (age 16) was home, upstairs in his room.

So, there we were: Me and these two strangers, with Bryce and Miles also in the house. And now we continue:

It turns out the boy visitor was from California, he had a full-on American accent. And so I tell him I have been to California, to Temecula, specifically.

Now, some of you might remember that the reason I went to Temecula was that we had a SUM conference in 2019 there. It was where Lynn was living at the time. 

"I used to go to church in Temecula," says the boy. Temecula is some 10,500 km from where he and I are sitting at that moment.  Strangers 3

I look down at his hands and see that some of his fingernails are painted gold. Was he an angel? It was just so crazy.

I don't actually think he was an angel as I got his phone number later, but he might as well have been.

He continued --

"I went to a church called Providence Church," he said. "In Temecula. It's a Presbyterian church."

Hmm, I went. I didn't even register that properly.

After talking for quite some time, I said "Shall we pray for each other? I would LOVE to pray for you!"

Yes, yes, they were keen. And at this point I can say that if Bryce had walked in on me praying with two strangers in the living room he would have found that really weird. But for some reason I was ignoring that.

So we pray. You know, often when praying with others there's a pressure to speak too quickly but on this occasion it wasn't like that. We took it in turns to focus on each of the three of us. We lingered, sat in silence, lifted the person to God and listened for his heart. Then we spoke for five or ten minutes what we felt God was saying. 

As the boy and the girl together prayed for me, they prophesied over me. They got visions and words for me. God, where did you get these two????

I'll share that part in my next post. But first I need to come back to this: Temecula.

After two and half hours the visitors left. Bryce was still in the shed having missed all the action. Miles was still upstairs. Once they'd gone, it occurred to me to look up the church the boy had mentioned, Providence Church. As I typed it into my phone up popped a road called Pauba Road. 'Oh!' I thought. 'That's where we had the SUM Summit!' 

And THEN, my friends, my eyes nearly popped out of my head at what I saw next: Providence Church meets in Linfield School, which is the very school that we had our last SUM conference in.

WHAT???

Take a moment for that to sink in, and I'll recap: Linfield school

I was feeling spiritually lacklustre. A random visitor turns up at my house in a cyclone. He has gold nailpolish on. He proceeds to tell me he used to go to church in Linfield School, and I find out that's where we held our last SUM conference. All of a sudden I can tell you I am no longer lack-lustre. God is here.

My friends, that story is a gift for us. God wants us to know he's in our community, he was all over that last conference in 2019, he is all over our upcoming one in September, and he adores us, his SUM Nation. Lynfield School 2

Honestly, I feel like blowing trumpets, but instead I celebrate by sharing a little picture of SUMites sitting in the sunshine at Linfield School, on that day way over in Temecula in 2019. 

As for what those two visitors prophesied over me, oh wow that's a whole other bottle of wine. Stay tuned for that on Monday.

God is real. God is good.

Ann


What I Would Tell My Younger, Unequally Yoked, Self

Dear Younger SelfWhat I would tell my 30-year-old self as a newly unequally yoked woman.

My friends, Lynn Donovan, here with you for a few posts. I’ve been pondering what was the most difficult part of my loooooong unequally yoked marriage. And viewing it from 30 years of experience now, I have concluded a few things that I wish I would have known when my unequally yoked marriage began.

I believe the greatest struggle for me was dispelling all the lies I believed about faith in God. Your story may be a bit different but for me I had to struggle, alone, wrangling with doubt, unbelief and the truth. Not only did I have my own doubts about God, the Bible, Jesus and faith when I was a young woman, but I also had to fight against my husband’s unbelief.

So for many years I would make small gains in belief through my church attendance and Bible reading. And then something would happen (an evil assignment) to make me doubt that God was real. And after fighting that doubt, then to fight against the thoughts that God wasn’t really good. And on and on. Three steps forward, two back. Then forward and back.

I think many young people go through this when figuring out their faith. For many who have believing husbands, they have a partner to hold them up when they are in doubt or struggle. They have a voice in their home that is strong in faith when they feel weak. But for us who are married to unbelievers, we lack the support AND we face their doubts and unbelief as well as our own.

Would you agree with this?

Their unbelief is a double smack down to our floundering faith life.

I know for me; Mike would ask difficult questions. And I lacked answers. Or for many of us, accusations come at us like we are God and must answer for him. For example, “If God is good, then why …….. (insert a number of things here). Or I received several statements such as:

  • The Bible is a flawed ancient book. It’s been misinterpreted.
  • God isn’t real. He is only a figment of imagination that weak people need to explain the unexplainable.
  • Jesus was only a man. How could a man be God?
  • Science will one day explain away these things you believe are supernatural.

Can any of you relate?

As I consider all of these statements, I wish I could put my arms around my younger self and whisper in her confused ears. “Lynn, just chuckle at these statements. The Bible is absolutely true. It is the voice of God. The Words in it will lead you to a life of abundance and utter fulfilment. Lynn, you are stronger than you know. And God is always with you. Jesus adores you and the Holy Spirit is standing by to empower your beliefs.”

My young friends who are in the trenches, please feel my arms around you today. Be empowered by what I am about to speak to you.

You are stronger that you know. Pursue God as He will take care of you. He is real. He is absolutely good. His plan for your life will give you the highest and best experience here on earth. You will live a life of goodness and walk in miracles. Believe the Bible. It is true and God is all around you, every day. Choose to do the right thing and live always in hope. Pray and pray and pray because He hears and moves upon your words of faith.

Laugh at the enemy and command him out of your life, home, marriage and relationships. Stand in faith because Jesus is real. He has everything you need and more. He is glorified when you live your best life now.

I love you, my friends. Take this advice deep into your heart. It’s absolutely true and it will change your life. Blessings, Lynn


That Difficult-to-Tame Tongue

By Ann Hutchison  Tongue

"I have a husband at home, and he's not a Christian." I was standing opposite a man at church whom I'd never met. "It's all a bit new to us this whole church thing," I said, munching away on a biscuit. My companion nodded sympathetically.

It was a couple of years into my spiritual mismatch in marriage, and I was in full SUM-pain-mode, talking far too much about it to anyone who would listen. Yak yak yak, I continued, telling this man all about the situation, and how hard it was.

A short time after that God whispered to me, "Ann do you realize what you did there?" And he showed me something:

He gave me a vision of a view that you would see if you held a piece of paper up between your two eyes and then looked at the view using both eyes. Perhaps you could try it now to see what I mean? What you see with a piece of paper between your eyes is two different things at the same time, and a blur -- - Your eyes do not work together.

God explained the vision to me:

"Ann, what you've done in speaking those words about your husband to another person is construct a spiritual barrier in your marriage. By putting that barrier in place with your tongue, you have prevented Bryce from seeing spiritual truth jointly with you. Watch every word you speak about him from now on. Only speak life, not death. Then, if you do that, you will eventually see as one." Declaration Sep 1

I put my head in my hands and groaned. And I believe that as I repented that barrier dissolved. Thank God for Jesus, and the power of his restoration. Still, I learnt a serious lesson.

That vision was so instructive for me, in fact, that from then on I watched every single word I spoke about Bryce, and militantly so.

Every. single. word. My prayer is this: Lord, let my tongue promote health!

I wanted to share that story because last week in our study of the Book of James we reached the famous passage on the untamable tongue:

We put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so, the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:3-8, NKJV).

In that study Lynn shared a true story: There was a man whose way of hearing God was that he would sometimes see things in the spirit realm with his natural eyes. He was having an argument with his wife one day, spoke some thoughtless words to her that labelled her in some way, and as he did he saw a cut appear on her face as a result of his words. That's how stark this thing is. Ann and Bryce

In our marriages, this means that we have the power to speak life or death over our spouse. We want to bring life to them -- We're desperate for that -- so we need to put our tongues into the right kind of action. 

Instead of a cut on the face, I wonder what kind of visual it would be if we used words of blessing over someone. God showed me once that when I bless people with my words, it's like rainbows come out of my mouth and hit those people. I like that image!

So these days, instead of referring to someone -- anyone -- as 'atheist', 'not a Christian', 'narcissistic', 'addicted to xyz', or any other kind of label, I'll stop and think quite carefully about what I say. For that little tongue of mine is a powerful little thing.

How easy or difficult do you find it to watch the words you speak about your spouse?   

Love you all,

Ann


Child of an Unequally Yoked Marriage: Part Two

Betty Higginbotham is continuing her story today. You can find part one here. On Monday Betty described how she married and had four children, but her husband wasn't a believer. So, we'll let her continue -- Betty Higginbotham

"Oh I tried. I would start going to church and tell myself "I got this", "I got it this time", just to be dragged back down. I did this many times. Never feeling accepted. Loved. My husband and I then got into a lifestyle I'm not proud of. I won't speak of it here. I will say it all but destroyed our marriage.

I battled again. For three years. Spoke of wanting to get back to God, but I didn’t know how. I couldn't just tell my friends or stop the lifestyle. Leave what I thought made my husband happy? No, I couldn't. I didn't know how. But, driving on my way to work one morning I spoke the simplest words. “God if that’s you, if you are calling my name, you and you alone will have to get me out. Because I don't know how to walk away.”

I woke up from a dream one night. It was so vivid and surreal. I was in a deep dirty hole, as if standing at the bottom of a water well. I could see all my sin around me. It was sickeningly scary, filthy. At the top of this deep, deep hole there was a light! A very small light. Oh! If I could just reach that light I would be out of here! Now imagine looking through a toy kaleidoscope, the image of the light getting brighter and brighter before bursting open with magnificent bold bright most beautiful colors like a turning kaleidoscope. I was getting out! I awoke. 

About a year later in the same lifestyle we were drinking and partying as usual, but in a split second a series of events happened that made my whole world blow up. It left me with no one. No friends. On the verge of divorce. I cried. I cried so hard. I didn't understand! But in my total brokenness, I heard a still soft voice. "Yet I am still here. Never to leave you nor forsake you."

From then on, I committed to follow God. I was 44 and have not looked back or missed one minute of that life since. It's taken a lot of healing. Rekindled relationships with family. Renewed friendships with my sisters, a closer bond like never before. I'm still with my husband of 34 years. We have much more of an understanding and are a lot more in tune with one another.

I struggled so long trying to "ride the fence". I knew the truth from a young age. I saw miracles at young ages. I heard God's voice. I used his power. Why did I struggle so? Well, my mother told me when I was 8: “They are battling for your life BUT satan will not win!” She claimed my victory in Jesus’ name from the very beginning. She had so much more faith in God and his promise (Acts 16:31 Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household!) than she did in the path I was taking. She did not sway nor waver. She only believed God’s word was true. She knew that day 10 years ago would come. She believed what God said was the end result would come to pass. To this day, all her children have accepted and are living for Jesus Christ.

I tell you all of this to pass along the hope and faith my mother had. No matter the road your children take, or are now on, it is not the end of their story! Satan may win some battles but the war is won only by the one who shed his blood for me, for you and your household, the one who stomps the serpent's head!

Now for things you did not see in my story.

  1. I was never physically abused even though I had an abusive alcoholic father.
  2. I didn't die nor have any effect of my overdose. Not even long term. I'm still healthy today.
  3. I was never addicted to drugs or alcohol. I could always take it or leave it.
  4. God saved my marriage. More than once. My husband is still not saved but God has a plan for his life.

Throughout my life God was there. Covering me. Protecting me. When you see your daughter or son taking a different path, stop. Look through the eyes of our Savior and see his end result, his promise that is written in Acts 16:31.

I pray this gives someone, just one, encouragement that the lost child will return home to Christ. As parents we are the seed planters. It may take others to water that seed for its growth. Much love to you all and God bless.

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


Trials -- Count it all Joy?!

Dear friends, Ann here. His word 2

Sigh, my heart is full! Yesterday morning I got up, made a pot of coffee, opened Zoom and there was Lynn along with a screen full of other SUM faces. Most were from America, one from England, and another from New Zealand.

When I see the SUM community in person like that I want to reach through the screen, pull you into my living room, and say a big hello. There's a lot of love here for you.

Most enjoyably, we sat with the Word of God for 40 minutes, then broke off into discussion groups.

My friends, if you want to join in next week or any of the following weeks, for as much or little as you can, please do. Email me at [email protected]. I might even be able to send you a recording of this last session (we're still working that out). I can certainly send you the Zoom link for upcoming sessions. 3pm Pacific, Wednesdays.

The Word of God. Isn't it wonderful! Since we're in the Book of James, can I encourage you to read it, even if you're not able to join on Zoom? I also will write the odd post about James on the blog as we focus on that book. Today, I want to do that, so here's a little introductory thought:

This week, a long-time friend of our community, Jim Edwards, sent me some writing that he had done about the Book of James. He wrote a book called Living and Breathing Hebrews to Jude (2008), and it's a paraphrase of the New Testament's epistles. I read the James segment and absolutely loved it. (Man, how I love the creative things God births through people in our community!) From that, here's something Jim wrote --

"James is full of one-liners: some seriously tough sound-bites. As sound-bites they can easily be misunderstood, and easily produce condemnation—beware! Each chapter has at least one. I’ve highlighted them in the notes, but you are likely to hardly notice them in my translation.

Most, however, are wonderful, direct, hard-hitting promises, where direct simple language helps the memory and adds power to the simple statement."

I'd never thought of the Book of James like that, but it's true. As you read it, you do get pummeled by the occasional 'oomph' verse that makes you gulp.

So I wanted to share the first one of those today, right from chapter 1:2. Are you ready? Here we go:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials (James 1:2, NKJV).

Really?

The verse continues:

.. knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing

My friends, what are the trials you've been through as part of your faith walk? How hard have they been? For me, certain trials have been almost unbearable; others not quite so stark, but still trials. Today I wrote in the margin five key trials I've been through since being a Christian. One of those is the SUM. At points in my SUM I have thought "Nothing could be as hard as this." There's something about the SUM walk that is so very difficult because it involves deeply spiritual issues.

Another trial I faced was a nine-month period of illness last year - Illness that was mysterious to the doctors, and for which there was no apparent solution. That was no light thing to walk through either. Almost every day during those nine months I had a little cry to myself. It was a different kind of battle to the SUM.

Count it joy? That I can do when I'm through the battle. It's harder to do when in the battle. But I can certainly engage with the concept and think about what it means.

Here's something intriguing Lynn said today on Zoom. She said (I'm paraphrasing): "Trials show you what lies you've been believing, and help you break those lies." Not that God brings us our trials, but he uses them mightily.

So, here's a discussion question: Think back on a trial you have faced. What lies did it bring to light?

Wow, that's a deep question. I might need some time to think on that myself. I'll leave you with it, and here's to us enjoying the Book of James these next few weeks. If you want to post your answer to the question in the comments, please do!

Love you all,

Ann


Don't Let Anyone Steal Your Crown

Crown 2

Hi SUM family, it's Ann here.

I'm on holiday at the moment in England, where I've been visiting my parents in my home town (Reading), and attending my brother's wedding. I have one more week here before flying back to New Zealand. It's been special to be with my family. 

I am finishing off this post with my Mum pottering in the next room. That's nice huh!

Now for today's post:

Today I had a catch-phrase I wanted to share -- It's something that we can speak out when feeling battered by others' unbelief. The catch-phrase is this:

I'm not going to let anyone steal my crown!

Perhaps we can even take a moment to speak that out right now, in fact, before continuing to read? Here we go: I'm not going to let anyone steal my crown!

The back story to that phrase is this:

I know there are some here who became unequally yoked because their spouse used to be a Christian, but then lost their faith. In many of those cases your spouse's faith was real, even vibrant, but now that same spouse lives in unbelief. You now hear from their mouth all the many reasons they choose not to believe.

I know a little of what's that like as I used to work with a man who lost his faith, having previously been on fire for Jesus. This man was a clever man, and he would share with me on many occasions the various reasons why he had chosen to walk away from Christianity. After spending time with this man I would often feel embattled.

God would show me all over again that Christianity is true. Nevertheless that man's voice was in my ear on a regular basis. So, which voice was going to be louder: God's or this man's?

A friend who was very strong in his faith knew I had this challenge and decided to send me some words of wisdom. They were such on-point words that I wrote them down at the time. I was greatly helped by them, and discovered them again this week so thought I would share them here.

Perhaps these words are especially for you today if you're one of those whose spouse lost his/her faith. Here goes:

"Don't let anyone steal your crown.

You sit in the heavenly realms with the Lord (Ephesians 2:6); you've been lifted. So it is that you remember the incredible position of authority and respect you have right now, and in the next life as well, even if some people have forgotten their position or have chosen to lower themselves after having once been elevated."

Amen to that. For the Bible does speak of us inheriting a crown, or crowns, and phew it will be quite the inheritance. We must hold onto it like crazy, not letting the unbelief of another person steal it from us. 

In that spirit, then, let's look at the scriptures about the crown that is laid up for us:

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away (1 Peter 5:4, NIV).

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8, NIV).

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown (Revelation 2:10, ESV).

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12, NIV).

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25, NIV)

If you would like prayer for perseverance today -- That is, if you are feeling battered by the unbelief of those around you and need prayer to keep going, leave a note in the comments and we'll pray for you.

Love,

Ann


Jehovah Perazim: Breakthrough Power Within You

Hello, dear friends, it's Ann here. Break the power within you

Last week we talked about life with the Holy Spirit. I so enjoyed those conversations.

Well, this week I want to share a couple of simple stories -- one today and one on Friday -- to describe something the Holy Spirit did on an otherwise ordinary day. In each story there is a truth for us SUMites to take away.

Are you sitting comfortably? Ok, here we go:

A few years ago, I was fast asleep in bed when I suddenly woke to feel a jolt of explosive power break out of me. KAPOW!!!  It felt like shards of diamonds had just exploded from within my innermost depths.

POW!

It was the descriptiveness of it that struck me. The sense I had was definitely of shards of diamonds. Precious stuff.

Why did I experience that, and what was God trying to say? I wasn't sure.

A few weeks later, however, he whispered this: Ann, that power was the breakthrough power within you that you carry. It will break out of you and change people and circumstances around you.

Amazing. What's more, I know that word wasn't just for me: It's for our community. For you carry the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, and I know that many of you stoke your relationship with God so fervently that this power will shift things around you eventually.

How I love this on-fire community of ours!

Christians use the word 'breakthrough' quite often to describe a change in circumstances, or even an inner change that they've been waiting for and praying for. As far as I'm aware it's not a term that's obvious in the Bible, but I do believe it's in there. Sometimes these terms catch on because a Spirit-led believer has experienced it and talked about it. 

So, where is breakthrough in the Bible? Well, I think a few tucked-away places.

First, the book of Micah describes a situation where the power of God is so great that breakthrough will occur --

He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the LORD at their head (Micah 2:13, ESV).

Second, there's a little scripture in the story of King David where David experiences a victory and declares God the Lord of breakthrough:

And David came to Baal-Perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me like a breaking flood.” Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-Perazim. (2 Samuel 5:20, ESV)

Reading that, I actually feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as I type. That tells me God is breathing on this concept for us. Perhaps we can linger there a moment. 

Jehovah Perazim, you are the Lord of breakthrough.

And finally, there's a curious story in the book of Genesis, where Judah's daughter-in-law Tamar carries twins, and during the birth one twin miraculously breaks through out of her womb:

When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. (Genesis 38:27-29, ESV)

Perez means the same as Perazim: Breakthrough. That baby, who broke through miraculously, ended up being the ancestor of Jesus. Breakthrough was in the DNA of Jesus and it's in ours too.

What do we do with all this? I think we are to just know about it. That is, we're to know that's what we carry, even if we can't see it with our natural eyes. What's more, we'll carry more of it the more time we spend with him. And, those around us will be changed by that, including our families.

We have the God of breakthrough intimately with us.

Whew, what a thought. Do you have any thoughts to share in the comments? I'll see you there.

Love,

Ann 

 


Inviting a Baptism of the Holy Spirit into Your Life

By Ann Hutchison Holy Spirit you are welcome 3

Years ago, I asked God a question: "What does it look like to walk with the Holy Spirit?" I had not read the Bible through yet, but I noted scripture mentioned gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as healing, tongues, and miracles; and I had questions for God about this.

A night or so later, I woke with a phrase in my head. The phrase was this: The voyages of Paul.

The voyages of Paul? Hmm. 

Now, I was a babe in the faith. I knew who the Apostle Paul was -- he wrote parts of the New Testament, but I didn't yet know he took voyages. "Did he take voyages?" I asked. Well, I went to Wikipedia and found that indeed he did! WOW.

Yep, that was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, and I sensed God was telling me to go and look at Paul's voyages to see how the Holy Spirit works in someone's life. When Paul took those voyages the Holy Spirit was active in his life, and his stories leave us examples of what that can look like.

Well, I still have those old notes from that day, and I'd like to share them with you now. I hope you like them. For me personally, they have refreshed me all over again, years on.

The Holy Spirit:

1. Speaks to you --

Especially when you worship and fast. He speaks through visions of the night or the day, dreams, pictures, symbols and analogies, and helps you understand scripture.

He warns you about certain things; and sometimes he gives instructions. This might be, for example, whether to step forward in a certain situation. Sometimes he will even forbid certain actions, not necessarily things that are a matter of conscience; rather, it's a 'not yet' or 'not here'.

He confirms his words to you by confirmations from others, and he says, 'Do not fear', and 'Take courage', strengthening you so that you continue in faith.

2. Helps you discern --

The Holy Spirit helps you look at a situation and know if it's God or Satan, enables you to recognize others' faith and, conversely, recognize the influence of evil in a particular situation.

3. Helps you speak --

He gives you words for others, which can greatly help them in their belief.

He enables you to speak accurately when necessary, though you will always be learning. Through him, you can speak true and rational words. You will testify to the grace of God, and he makes you God's witness.

He even might enable you to give others some divine insight, if you grow your skills in the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1).

Finally, he will enable you to speak boldly. Some still won't believe, but God does open hearts.

4. Grants signs and wonders

As you grow, the Holy Spirit will enable you to shake off the devil and be completely unharmed.

He will enable you to heal others, and even raise someone from the dead (Can I believe that? Yes I believe it).

Just as miraculously, he will enable you to open others' eyes and set people free of troubling spirits, strengthening the church as a whole, and increasing the size of the church. 

5. Strengthens you

Finally, he will have the effect of great joy on you and others and put a fervor inside you that stands up against anything on the outside.

**

WOW. How amazing, exciting and inspiring this is. All I can say is I want more and I know that it is there. This list was, after all, compiled from scripture (The Book of Acts chapters 13-28).

As for what it means for us today? Well, the Holy Spirit can come from an appropriate person laying hands on a person (see Acts 8:17-19), or by simply asking God in the quiet of one's home to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. 

To be baptized with the Holy Spirit is life-changing, and begins the above adventures. I believe God will give us only as much of the above-listed experiences as we can handle, according to our maturity and other circumstances. It's a beginning.

If you are reading this and haven't ever asked God for a baptism of the Holy Spirit, or simply want to ask him for more, you can do that in the quiet of your home. But, it would also be our honor to pray for you. If you would like, leave us a comment and we would absolutely love to pray for you! 

Love you, friends,

Ann


Sweet Gifts for a Grandmother's Faith

By Ann Hutchison  T M 2

You know, when it comes to my kids I've always found it super challenging to bring faith to them. In fact, it's no less challenging to bring faith to them as it is to bring faith to my husband.

Is it like that for many of you, I wonder?

Here's a pic of my precious two boys -- Travis and Miles. They are 17 and 16 and, like their Dad, they have not yet had a point in their life where they've said "Yes, I give my life to Jesus". That's not to say they haven't been exposed: Both boys were raised with me talking about God a lot. I would tell them God stories, I would pray for them, and I did take them to church for periods of time, but church never gelled for them and that part was a real struggle for me.

In his earlier years, my oldest used to express unbelief, or would challenge the existence of God. He's a very concrete person, geared around what he can see and touch directly. Those expressions of unbelief have now stopped, though - Interesting.

My youngest, meanwhile, joined church of his own volition a year ago too. THAT was amazing, and I shared that story here. He and I now attend church together, just the two of us. Still, with him I'm watching and wondering where he sits with it all. 

Well, two weeks ago something very special happened, because I saw a tiny shift happen separately for each boy in the space of one weekend. Glimmers of change. Mum Travis 2

I'll start with Travis. My Mum was visiting us and she and I happened to have the chance to go out for dinner on our own with Travis. It was a treat for her and I. As parents of teens know, it's nice to have the excuse to spend time talking with a willing teenager and we chatted about all sorts. Here's a nice photo from that night.

Well, partway through the evening, we started talking about Travis's friends and where they stand in their beliefs about God. He said, very casually, 'Yes, they've told me they don't believe in God, and I've told them I do believe in God.'

I've told them I believe in God.

Well that made me smile because I have never before heard him say that. And, when someone makes a statement like that it's a clear step forward to say 'My heart is open'. 

That was Friday.

Sunday rolled around, then, and my Mum and I drove with Miles (my youngest) to church. It was the first time my Mum had attended our church and she was looking forward to it. 

Our church doesn't do communion often, but they happened to have it that day. The leader said, "If you have received Jesus into your heart, then do come up and take some bread and wine". Miles was sitting on the other side of the room to us with one of his friends. I took a peek over thinking 'will he go?' and sure enough up he got, walked to the table, and took the bread and wine. He then went and sat down, and as I peeked over I could see he had his eyes closed, reflecting. It's the first time I've seen him take communion.

Like the statement his brother made - 'I believe in God' - Communion is powerful. It is the finest of feasts, and a way we can enter Him, by eating his body and drinking his blood. That day Miles took a step in the Heavenlies by receiving communion (Jesus). Mum miles 2

Later, my Mum and I were alone and I turned to her --

"Did you notice what Travis said in the restaurant?"

"Oh yes, I was going to say the same to you!" Her eyes sparkled back at me.

"And did you notice Miles took communion?"

"I DID! Yes, I noticed that too."

She and I grinned broadly.

My Mum has been a woman of faith since the 1970s, never wavering, never backsliding, and praying constantly for her family. It seemed somehow providential that she was there to witness those two new signs that my boys are getting there, that is, getting towards that momentous decision where they will say --

"Yes, I am going to give my life to Jesus."

Thanks for reading along today. For those of you who have kids, how old are they and how are things going faith-wise?

Ann


Nothing is Impossible -- A Testimony

Ann here,

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

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

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


"It is Finished."

Dear friends Passion of Christ

It's Ann here, and we've reached Friday, the very last day of Holy Week and the day where Jesus was eventually taken to his death.

This particular year I have been thinking a lot about the visual signs of power in that last moment on the cross:

"From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened they were terrified, and exclaimed "Surely He was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:45-54, NIV)

That picture stuns me. The brooding darkness, the rock-splitting earthquake, and the curtain in the temple being violently ripped in two. I'm picturing the shock of those who discovered or saw that curtain. Would they have registered at all what was going on?

At that very moment humanity was being given free access to an intimate relationship with God. As Jesus breathed his last, he said: "It is finished." It's done.

The earth shook, the rocks split, the tombs broke open. Dead people would start waking up and coming out of their tombs days later. Can you imagine?! The sheer power of that moment leads me to ask a question of myself: What exactly does the power of the cross mean for my own life?  

I had a chat with a Christian friend last week. She told me that she was facing a distressing situation at work that was proving to be quite severe. A colleague of hers was displaying some very dark behavior and she was being challenged in a number of ways that actually seemed spiritual. She then told me God's answer to her had been this:

"Lean on the finished work of the cross."

She and I chatted a little about that, and both felt it was a somewhat elusive phrase, but nevertheless a phrase that really made us think. What does it look like, exactly?

Lean on the finished work of the cross.

In our lives, the finished work of the cross means that the enemy is disarmed. It means that good is more powerful than evil. It also means that Jesus has cleared our own sin to such a great degree that we know we are loved.

Lean on the finished work of the cross.

The finished work of the cross is power in our lives, and it means we have the kind of access to God that we otherwise never could have had. It means rock-splitting power. Resurrection power.

So, with all that said, here's a little idea: Consider sitting with the Lord to ask him about what the finished work of the cross means for your current circumstances. Share in the comments any insights you come up with.

And .. We will be back on Sunday!

Ann


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

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

The Silent Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What Does Victory Look Like?

Hello SUMite Nation, our Church without Walls,

Lynn Donovan here. Years ago, at a writer's conference, I heard the Lord say to me, "Yes, you are going to do this." The reference was to start this ministry and hopefully help one other person who was on the road with me in an unequally yoked marriage.

And here we are years later. So many of you have followed my story, read the books I wrote and those I wrote with Dineen Miller. Our story is HIStory. It's a story of how an ordinary woman had a distant hope in a great BIG God.

I want to share the END OF THE STORY with you today.

March 14 was our THIRTY year wedding anniversary. WOW! Thirty years of ups and downs, fights and makeup mooching, laughing, crying, gain and loss, faith and doubt. We have lived through a life. On this 30th, Mike and I are about to close on our dream home in our New Promised Land. We found a home in a small country community in Northern California. We will move in May 1st. Just in time for my birthday. Papa is just soooo good.

I feel as though all the sacrifice and what seemed like a distant hope for years is now being fulfilled. Thirty years, a lifetime with one man. And more than that, this thirty years led me to the most important aspect of my entire existence. A powerful faith life and an intimate and consuming relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. 

I take into this new Promised Land everything I fought for. All my years of prayers and petitions and the fruits of decades of practice, belief and hope.

My friends..... This is the end game of a faithful God AND a faithful servant of Christ. There is goodness in the land of the living for the faithful. You do your part and God will do His. I KNOW it's difficult and this powerful faith isn't for the faint-of-heart, but for Kingdom children of the Most High.

After 30 years, this is the secret: Don't ever give up on the Lord. Never stop praying and believing. Always grow in faith. Let love change you, then your spouse and your family. Partner with the Lord in all you do and He will show up with miracles.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I'm humbled to think I shared a tiny part of your life and faith. I'm truly thankful. Thank you for celebrating with me. 

And for all of you still in the trenches, I now get to continually pray for you and your family. Leave your name and those you want me to bring before our Lord. I will do it with great gladness and exuberant expectation for YOUR MIRACLES!

I love you, Lynn

Photos from our new place: 

RM 3 14 2022
RM 3 14 2022
RM 3 14 2022

Lynn New Home RM 3 14 2022


From Spiritually Mismatched to Jointly Present

By Ann Hutchison Tea and biscuits

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

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

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

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

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

She smiled at me.

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

"Was that hard for you?" I asked. 

"Was it ever!" she rolled her eyes.

We shared a cheeky smile.

"So what happened next?" 

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

I peered around her discreetly at him again.

"Amazing." I said with a big smile.

"Yes, amazing." She grinned back.

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

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

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

It's summed up well here:

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

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

Hope you liked that story. Love you all,

Ann