94 posts categorized "Victory"

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


The Day My Husband Entered the Small Group Scene

Ann here, and I thought the title would make you smile. Yes indeed, I have a little story to tell today. Welcome

In Monday's post I left off where my small group had said: "Do invite your husband to the Christmas dinner, we would love to meet him."

Gulp!

Now, Bryce has said to me on a number of occasions that he finds the whole 'small group' concept difficult. He has a bad experience of growing up in an unhealthy and spiritually controlling church, and from that experience he was concerned that any small group I joined would be 'cultish and weird'. Those were hard words to hear, but hey, if this is how our spouse sees these things it's probably helpful to know. If we know, then we can try to understand and try to address it. Anyway, given all of that historical 'stuff' the thought of now inviting him to a small group Christmas dinner was not easy!

I wonder, though, whether at some point we all turn a corner where things become different? Where faith or church are not so contentious any more? Anyway, the long and short of it is that I plucked up the courage and asked him.

And ..... 

He said yes. No problem at all. Just like that. He said his 'yes' so easily, in fact, that I had to leave the room to process this massive new development, which felt like breaking news.

Now here's that same scene I described on Monday where I stand at a closed front door, behind which lies a small group, and I'm wondering how on earth this thing is going to go. Except this time my husband is standing by my side.

I hold a salad, he's carrying wine, and we're ready for a good time. He's perfectly cheerful but I've got a pounding heart. Why? It's the first time we've gone through the doors of church together since those difficult church days of his. Yes, it's only a small-group dinner, but it's the church.

We enter, join the chattering crowd on the back patio of the house, and before I can barely introduce him ... off he goes. Into a happy crowd and away from my side. And so the evening continued. Ann Bryce

Later, as the sun set, he and I were sat in a circle of comfy outdoor armchairs chatting with some of the others about church and other things. He liked them, they liked him. At that moment I looked up to see a beautiful rainbow in the dusky sunset. I took it as a wink from God and thanked Him -- Seriously, seriously thanked Him -- for this moment.

Oh my dear SUM friends, it was a fascinating turning of a corner, and I know you understand the emotions around this sort of thing. It was indeed 'breaking news' for it broke some kind of barrier. It also broke away some of my own lingering angst about our spiritual mismatch, bringing us together and showing me all over again 'God's got this'.

Some of us have spouses who do visit church or its social events; others of us find that area more tricky. But however it looks now, things can always change --

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

Does your spouse come to church or social events or not? Let's chat more in the comments.

Love you loads,

Ann


Entering 2022 as a Community

Dear friends 2022 2

It's Ann here, and today I want to share some thoughts about 2022 for us as a community.

At this time of year I spend some time praying about the year and asking God if there are any particular themes for us as a community. For 2022, here's what seems to be on my mind:

The SUM walk is so multi-faceted in the kinds of issues we face and the skills we have to develop in order to thrive. In fact, it's not only multi-faceted, but it is long. Some SUMites do have an experience where their spouse joins them in faith quickly, but for most of us the SUM journey is like a marathon or high-altitude mountain climb. It's high-risk, tiring, and takes endurance.

This year, I think what God is saying is, hone your skills, equip each other for the climb, and persevere

Yes, persevere.

These are just some of the complex facets we have to tackle specifically because we are in a spiritually mismatched marriage:

  • Tackle our own doubts, and hold fast to our basic belief in Jesus.
  • Understand God's heart for unbelievers and his plans for humanity
  • Stay connected to church when it feels almost impossible to do so.
  • Understand Satan and demons, and know how to fight them.
  • Take on the solo responsibility for our children's faith lives
  • Learn about prayer, including using our authority in the spirit realm
  • Learn to love our spouse well and be a great marriage partner
  • Set good boundaries within and around our marriages
  • Develop a strong devotional life 
  • Learn to hear and discern God's voice
  • Build a healthy personal community around ourselves.

Phew -- There's a lot there. And though it is the spiritual equivalent of a high-altitude mountain climb, a lot of what we go through seems to be about training ourselves in the above areas over and over. 

Now, I'm not a climber myself but my Dad was (he's still alive, but older now). As a child I remember he would go off to climb mountains in Europe, taking pick axes, ropes, pulleys, crampons, pouches of dried food, compasses, maps and more. It was serious business. He would also go in a team: Mountaineers have to work together to keep each other safe. 

That's what I feel we're going to do here in SUM in 2022. We have unmovable mountains to conquer: The mountains of our spouse's and family's unbelief. So, to face those we have to dig deep, roll up our sleeves, decide we're not going to give up, and keep equipping ourselves together.  

There's a fabulous documentary on Netflix about high-altitude mountaineering called '14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible'. It's about a Nepalese man who climbed all fourteen high-altitude peaks in the world in record time -- Within a year. These were peaks over 8,000m. He took a team of fellow mountaineers and the documentary follows all of their climbs. It is an absolute inspiration to watch. The sheer grit that he displays, the skill level, the fatigue, all of it .... Amazing. He called his feat Project Possible, because people told him it was impossible. He came out victorious, and so can we. 

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

Dear SUMites, this year -- 2022 -- I'm looking forward to us becoming even stronger, even more perseverant, and even more equipped to walk out our faith in our unique marriages. 

Now here's a question for you: Which of the above issues would you particularly like to see us write about this year?

Love to you all

Ann


A Date for your January Diary

Hi everyone, January

It's Ann here, and I just wanted to give you a heads up about the next thing coming up for us:

Our annual fast is happening from Monday 3 January to Friday 7 January -- And, even though fasting is challenging there's something very exciting about that week. So yes, put those dates in your diary and start to think about how you might take part.

For those new here, this fast is something we've done for a number of years and many of us find it a deeply impactful experience. One SUMite even said recently it's the spiritual highlight of her year. What we notice, I guess, is that it brings us closer to God, and we'll often have something novel happen during the fast to us personally, or to someone else in the comments. It's very much an 'in-it-together' thing. 

If you're new to fasting, a good way to start is to fast from food each day from sunrise to sunset, with a small meal each evening. But, if you've built up some fasting stamina over past years you might try a stretch further by going liquids-only for the whole week, Monday sunrise to Friday sunset. Eek, that is very challenging indeed!

However you challenge yourself, things do shift, change, and break open. Guess what happened the first time I took part in this community fast? At Friday sunset I walked into my bedroom to find Bryce lying on our bed reading a Christian book!! I couldn't believe my eyes; and yet I could because of the week I'd been through.

Jesus said to his disciples when they were trying to unsuccessfully cast out an unclean spirit, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29). 

... And to that I say, "Right then, let's roll up our sleeves and take the plunge all over again this January, for we need this in our homes!"

After Christmas we'll write a little more about how we can prepare for the fast. But for now it'd be good to start asking God "How would you like me to fast this time?" and perhaps pray for the stamina and preparedness to do it, because it does take some thinking.

I'm really looking forward to doing this with you all again.

Much love,

Ann


I Need A Prayer

Post A PrayerHi Friends, Lynn Donovan here:

I'm coming to you today in the midst of a very busy season and yet hopeful you will take five minutes to step along side of me and especially my husband, Mike. 

I would love to receive a short, one-to-two paragraph prayer, for healing. I want to pass these short prayers to Mike, one a day, throughout his treatment with begins December 13. Read About it here.

Please take a minute to login here and post in the comments, a SHORT prayer, from your heart, that Mike could pray to build his faith for healing. 

I am absolutely leaning on you and your love during this season. 

I love you. I feel surrounded by your goodness, your love and your faith. Hugging you with a full heart today, Love, Lynn


The 'Unequally Yoked' Are Dancers!

By Ann Hutchison Dance

Hi SUM family!

I said that today I would share another word from the Lord about how he sees our carrying of the Gospel in our homes. Well, I have to say what I'm going to share next has warmed my heart over the last few days. 

The word that follows was given to me a few years ago by the Holy Spirit, but I never understood it at the time. That's because it was for today, not then. It came to me as a phrase that landed in my head, I wrote it down straight away and pondered it, but then forgot all about it. Forgot, that was, until I started writing this series on the Gospel.

The phrase was this:

The unequally yoked can dance the true Gospel.

And yes, what a cryptic word indeed! But as I've sat with it this past week, here's what I've come to understand:

In this series we've discussed whether we use words to preach the Gospel in our homes. We agreed that mostly we live it out quietly in front of our spouse. Mostly the Gospel message is 'preached' quietly. And, it's the choices we make that will get our spouse thinking.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been asking myself this: "What has Bryce seen in my choices that tell him about the Gospel over the last few years?"

The answer to that would be "quite a lot"!

And you too, I know. Even if you think you're not being effective enough. It might even be a fun exercise to take a piece of paper and jot down all the things your spouse has seen in you that tells them something about the Gospel, and, importantly, challenges them as to its truth.

In this way, the Gospel is something we dance. We make daily movements in tandem with Jesus to mime it all out. We don't stand up in front of a microphone and preach at our spouses. No, instead we dance it ... Day in, day out. 

Dance can tell a story.

Dance is mesmerizing.

Dance is visible rather than noisy.

Dance is beautiful.

And what's more, the Lord made it clear in the above word that it's not just the Gospel, it is truth. For, however much we are told by our spouse "It's not true," it is true. It is the truest thing in the world.

No one can take that truth away from us. And so, we dance. 

Now, I know nothing about dancing, but this week I spent some time on Youtube looking for examples of expressive dances that tell stories without using words (which is what dance does). I have no discernment as to what makes good dancing vs bad dancing, it is not my area, but spending time on Youtube just watching the beautiful art of dance I could appreciate a little of what it means to 'dance' the Gospel out in front of another person. 

You might like to do the same, look on Youtube at some dancing? Anyway, I say let's pick up our metaphorical dance shoes and keep on dancing that Gospel in our homes, with gusto, and in full view of our spouses!

My friends, this wraps up our time of looking at the Gospel. It's been lovely thinking about this together, and next week it's time for something new. See you on Monday!

Ann


Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

“This isn’t what I married.” Said Bryce. “And there may come a point where I say to you enough is enough.” Rock hard place

He stood by the chest of drawers suddenly seeming distant. I sat on the bed. My heart was pounding with fear.

“Don’t you ever say to me you can’t give it up if I ask you to.”

He was talking about my church involvement. And possibly also my faith. Gulp.

One request had led to this conversation: I had told him I'd like to go to a ‘small group’ at church one evening a week. It was 2017, and I thought he was used to my faith and my church-going. But I had misread how he truly felt. As I can now see, a small group/home group is weird to someone not versed in church ways.

I was helpless and heartbroken. Helpless as to what to do; heartbroken at the fracture between us. I could not change my beliefs if he asked me to. I could change some of my behavior, but my beliefs? 

Over the next few days I scraped myself around the house, miserable. The burning in my bones wouldn’t go away. The experience of God had been too tangible for me to turn any other way except towards Him.

My friends, I'm guessing you've likely had one of these 'fracture-filled' moments at some point in your SUM? Some of us have an easier ride than others on this one, depending on how much our spouse disagrees with our faith and how much they verbalize it to us. When a spouse does verbalize displeasure at our faith it is memorably difficult and upsetting. It always calls for us to go away, think about what we can compromise on, and on what we just can't. 

Things are easier now between Bryce and me, but that day in 2017 I remember thinking to myself (crying) "I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, the rock being Jesus and the hard place being my husband!"

What on earth do you do when you feel stuck in an impasse like this?

Well, apart from having a little cry, which is thoroughly cathartic, I'd say the most helpful thing we can do is turn our face directly towards the rock-face that is Jesus. The rock-face that our spouse is even against. There is a rock on one side, a hard place on the other. Turn our face directly towards the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). It has to be that way. Give some time to Jesus, go for a walk, say to Jesus 'Please minister to me in my pain,' and determine that you will keep on being a Christian.

Dear friends, if we do that (turn deliberately to Jesus), He will come through for us and change something in this situation, even if it is simply to give us strength.

Love for Jesus includes love for our spouse, so then we ask Jesus: "What does loving God but loving my spouse look like in this particular circumstance?"

I suppose the words 'rock and a hard place' aren't entirely unscriptural. After all there is a verse that says that Jesus is the rock that the builders rejected, and yet that rock became the cornerstone of the church (Acts 4:11). He is also the living stone rejected by men (1 Peter 2:4). I guess, then, if we are feeling we're in between a rock and a hard place with our Rock, Christ, being rejected by our other half, we're simply living out a scriptural truth!

The good news is, this particular story about my husband, me, and church has a rather amazing ending. God moved in a way that made my eyes widen with surprise. I will share that story next time I write.

For now, do you feel you're in between a rock and a hard place at the moment? If so, feel free to share in the comments and I'd love to pray for you.

With love,

Ann


In Our Homes We Are Fresh as a Daisy!

Hi dear friends, Scripture Aug 6

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

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

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

Fresh, lovely daisies.

The scripture itself is from 2 Corinthians 10:4:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you loads, Sumites!

Ann


Alissa Berglund Salvation Testimony

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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


Are You Fighting the Right Battles?

Hi SUM family, Ann here. Paul 2

What a treat to have Martha write for us on Monday -- Thank you, Martha! And, phew, the titles of our latest blog posts may look like we're being challenging. Are you kicking against the goads? was Martha's post. Now, mine is titled: Are you fighting the right battles? That said, the Apostle Paul was convicting; so, I guess a study about him will lift our game.

Nothing wrong with that! In fact, I always think that's a sign of a good church, if people are challenged to better discipleship.

So, yes, are we fighting the battles God wants us to fight? Are we putting our energy into the right places?

In the Book of Acts, there is a story where Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel in a particular place, Bythnia. Paul wanted to go there -- He had huge passion and truth to share. Surely the people of Bythnia needed him ...? And yet he was forbidden. Why? Only God knows. 

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bythnia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the Gospel to them. (Acts 16:6-10, NKJV)

We don't know what would have happened if they had gone to Bythnia. It's like a movie plot where Bythnia is the mysterious path not taken. What we do know is what happened in Macedonia: They met a lovely lady, Lydia, in Philippi, and baptized her and her household (Acts 16:11-15). Angels would have sung at that! Perhaps they were always meant to meet Lydia. What's more, they had their massive Midnight Hour miracle, where they were broken out of prison and the jailer's household was saved too (Acts 16:25-34). Yes, the power story that Lynn told last week about Paul and Silas happened in Macedonia. If they had gone to Bythnia .... Well, we would never have had that story. But they did go, they obeyed God, and these salvations occurred.

Hallelujah to that! And, Lord, help us to listen to your voice carefully.

I believe this story is relevant to the craziness we find ourselves in today. Right now, there are all kinds of battles we can fight, all kinds of things we can speak to. But where and how does God want us to speak or act? Some of us might be called to one battle, others to another. But, we must keep listening to him.

I suppose it's a little like Peter who gets told by Jesus, after the resurrection, what his commission is to be. Jesus specifically tells him that he will die a hard death. Peter turns and gestures towards the other close disciple, John, "But what about him?" Jesus's reply is this: "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." (John 21:21-22). In other words, you do your bit; and your bit might look different to someone else's.

There are only so many hours in the day. Who knows, there could be a Lydia waiting around the corner for us, but if we're too busy throwing ourselves into 'Bythnia' rather than 'Macedonia', yikes, we might miss it!

I guess, then, this whole story says this: In doing good works for Jesus, I must pay careful attention to where he wants my energy, and walk that particular path.

Then -- if I do -- I will say this with joy:

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV)

My friends, in the comments, perhaps we can share where we feel God might be asking us to put our energy/words at the moment? And where he is asking us not to go? 

Much love to you all,

Ann


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

Hi SUM family, Ann here. Singing

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

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

Three in one week.

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

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

So funny!

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

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

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

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

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

Seven times, nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Another Spouse Gets Baptized!

Ann here!Baptism

Teehee ... I bet the title made you eagerly open this one. And, you won't be disappointed with what you read next. God glorifies His name through this community. Sometimes we have to wait a little while between testimonies, but they always come.

I remember just before COVID spread through the world I wrote a post called 'Salvations in our Community -- What's Next?' We'd had a noticeable and unusual spate of spouses' conversions in a short space of time, which had pricked up my antennae. Feeling like something was ‘in the water’, I wrote the post.

Well, something was in the water, but it wasn't what we expected. I wrote that post on 1 March 2020. By 14 March, COVID was running rampage in Italy. A week later, people everywhere were saying 'What a week this year has been'; and, by the end of the month, many of us were locked down.

We've continued to watch all this unfold, but the biggest message I've heard from God this whole year is this: Prepare to win and care for souls. I continue to believe we are going to see new Christians -- born again ones -- come into the Kingdom of Heaven when this pandemic is over.

Well, blow me down, today we got a little inkling of that again, with a testimony of a spouse's conversion that was just so encouraging. It felt, to me, like the sun was coming out again.

It was yesterday morning that I heard. I stepped out of bed and thought to myself, “We had that spate of conversions before COVID. I’d love to see some more now!” Only an hour later I checked email and there it was -- This message, from one of our dear SUMites:

“After 24 years of marriage, my husband was baptized yesterday, July 4, 2021. I am over the moon! It was a gradual process that seemed to steamroll over the last two years, during a whirlwind move to another state, and aided by circumstances beyond our control … We look to God for comfort and direction and are closer than ever in our relationship to each other as well as to our Father. Praise God, and thank you, Jesus.” 

I wrote back instantly, and she then told me something extra that was sweet: At the very moment her husband was dunked in the pastor’s swimming pool, fireworks went off in the background. Celebration, power, and God's goodness.

We all know what it takes to get there, and we can all relate to this one praying, perseverant wife saying she is 'over the moon!' On behalf of all of us, I say to her just how much we celebrate with her, and I thank her for sharing it with us.

On that happy note, have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Ann


The Way We Fight Giants

My friends, Ann here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The five smooth stones of the SUM community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And more, but I'm out of space:

Laughter

Rest

Delight in Him

Revisiting prophetic words we have received

Distraction from triggers

Fasting

Praying in tongues

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

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

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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

Hi SUMites!

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

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

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

Of course. 

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

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

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

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

Revelation 1:13-20 (NKJV).

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

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

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

Hmm...

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

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

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

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

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

and He is with us in every step we take.

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

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

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

Ann


What to Do When Facing a Scary Giant

Hello friends, Giant fighting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ann


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


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


Waging War With God's Words

Hi SUMites, Ann here!  Rings

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

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

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

He is calling our pre-believers with His salvation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 68:11-14, NKJV)

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

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

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

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

Ann


Our Coatings of Protection

Hi SUM family, Ann here. Coat

Last week I had a ‘moment’ in my SUM life, as we do, that turned into a good wisdom lesson for me, so I'm going to share it today. It was about God's protection.

I was reclining in my favorite armchair before bed one night, cocoa in hand, when something occurred to me and my face fell.

It was this: Recently I’ve developed a routine where, once dinner is in the oven at about 5 or 6pm, I go to my bedroom and pray for my family. That includes Bryce, and I’ve been praying various things for him with gusto. I like that new routine, it's a happy one; but on this day a thought struck:

“I would love it if it was the other way round. I'd love it if he prayed for me.”

Aggh, and that thought snowballed. I got thinking about the fact that a praying spouse would be a strong source of protection and I'm perhaps missing some kind of 'protective coat'. Or am I?

To be fair, my family has plenty of people praying for us. And actually, it's possible my husband prays more than I realize. His levels of belief have inched up lately, and I do believe there is a quiet blooming that I shouldn't be quick to disregard. But that evening I got tangled. I eventually went to bed, and the next morning the Lord seemed to want to correct my thinking. He said this to me:

Ann, go to the Bible and look at what coatings of protection you currently have.

I love it when God gives me something to explore, so the minute the boys left for school I made myself an enormous pot of coffee and rolled up my sleeves, ready to take a look at what it was he wanted me to see. 

My pen scribbled furiously that morning. I came up with quite a few forms of protection that I have, but here - listed below - are four of the key ones. And these apply to all of us SUMites. In fact, once I had finished working through that task I quickly realized that I had no need to fret whatsover. And I should leave my husband to go at his own pace when it comes to his own prayer life. Here, then, are some of the ways in which we are protected:

Layer of protection #1:

The shadow of Almighty God is so powerful we may as well be sitting under a nuclear bomb. If we make every effort to stay in that secret place, there's this:

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

“He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
 You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day.” (Psalm 91:1, 3, NKJV)

Layer of protection #2:

The blood of Jesus Christ is our source of victory. I imagine it sprinkled on our homes like the Israelites smeared lamb's blood on their doorposts.

"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (Revelation 12:11, NKJV)

Layer of protection #3:

Head to toe, we wear special spiritual armour at all times. This includes a helmet, a breastplate, a shield, a tool belt, and strong shoes (Ephesians 6). This keeps us safe and sound, and then we easily fight for our families.

Layer of protection #4:

The many prayers of other saints, past and present, is a force-field. This includes those who sowed seeds in times past, some in our ancestry, some who are now in the cloud of witnesses, and some who are currently shepherds to us -- And those shepherds who are in our lives know their authority and pray powerful prayers. All these prayers protect us and our homes from the enemy and plant faith seeds that will surely grow.

**

With these coatings of protection, then, we never need to worry about being victorious in our own lives. In turn, as fighters we are equipped to care for our families. And, of course, a big protective mechanism is this community, and its many prayers for each other. 

Friends, in that spirit, if you'd like prayer today, put a post in the comments, and we'll gather round you. In the meantime, here's to fewer and fewer of those wobbly 'moments'! 


How to Pray Psalm 91 For Your Children's School

Vidya RodneyPraying Psalm 91 by Vidya Rodney

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Psalms 91:1-16 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/psa.91.1-16.NLT

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, since school has reopened and we have been navigating these uncertain times with Covid 19, I decided to write my own prayer using specific verses of psalm 91.

We are faced with challenging times, but our Abba daddy is so great and merciful. Along with Yeshua (Jesus) and Holy Spirit He has also given us the power of words to declare and decree our protection for our schools, households, families, our children etc.

Some of us were in a limbo of whether we should do virtual learning or in person. So, my husband decided that he wanted our daughter to attend in person. I was very tense and nervous at the same time, but I remembered that God meets us in whatever situations we must face.

Since I live in a spiritually unequally yoked marriage, I decided I would petition my household's safety and protection with psalm 91. So, first thing in the morning, I read psalm 91 aloud and then I say my prayer I wrote. With all my prayers I stand on 1 Corinthians 7:14 - For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.

1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/1co.7.14.NLT

So here's my prayer I wrote:

Dear Heavenly Father, I stand on the verse 1 Corinthians 7:14 on behalf of my household and I declare that You, Lord, are our refuge and our place of safety. You are our God and we trust in you (Psalm 91:2)

I thank you Lord that you will protect my child and my household from every trap and protect us from every deadly diseases that includes Covid-19 (Psalm 91: 3)

Lord I thank you that your feathers cover me, and my household and you hide us under the shelter of your wings. I thank you, Lord God, that your faithful promises are our armor and protection (Psalm 91:4)

Lord your word says " We must not be afraid of the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day. (Psalm 91:5)

In the name of Jesus, me and my household will not dread the disease (Covid 19) that stalks in the darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday (Psalm 91:6)

Though a thousand may fall at our sides and 10,000 are dying around us, because of your faithfulness Lord God, this evil as will not touch me or my household [ I name each person that lives in my household and you can also add other family and friends names here) - (Psalm 91:7)

Your word also says that if I make you my refuge and shelter, no evil will conquer me and my household and no plague (no coronavirus) will come near our home (Psalm 91: 9-10).

Lord God I thank you that you order your angels with special orders to protect us wherever we go. I thank you Lord God, that right now your angels are holding me and my household up in their right hands, so we will not even dash our foot against a stone (Psalm 91: 11-12)

According to Luke 10:19 and Psalm 91:13- You have given us the authority to trample upon fierce lions, cobras and serpents under our feet in Jesus name.  Therefore, we will crush coronavirus under our feet in Jesus name. Hallelujah!!!(Psalm 91:13)

Lord I pray for supernatural wisdom and strength for each and every teacher, every school official, janitors, bus drivers, bus monitors and the school staffs. I pray for a supernatural hedge of protection over the parents and the children through the blood of Jesus. I pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding over everyone of them in Jesus name.

I pray for a holy ring of fire of protection over and around the school property and around all the other schools. I plead the blood of Jesus over the school staff and all the parents and children in Jesus name.

Lord God, I especially stand in the gap and ask for supernatural protection through the blood of Jesus over both the little children and the older kids. Give them wisdom to use their hand sanitizers and practice safety at all times in Jesus name.

Lord we thank you for all answered prayers. We give the honor, the glory and the highest praise in the mighty name of Jesus.

Amen and Hallelujah!!!

*****
I am Vidya Rodney. Married to my pre-believing husband Andrew for 10 years. We have a beautiful  5 year old little girl Anya. I live in St Charles ,Missouri and first accepted Jesus in 2011 after losing our only brother to suicide. I have been a lukewarm Christian for years, but now I am stepping out to find out more of what Jesus has for me.