189 posts categorized "Witnessing to an Unbeliver"

Sorry, What Did You Just Say??

By Ann Hutchison You prepare a table for me

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

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

Well, something like that happened to me this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Satan stops people from seeing truth."

Sorry, what???

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing.

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

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

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

Ann

 


The Fire in You Will Catch!

By Ann Hutchison Coffee and fire

Dear SUMites, as you know over the last few posts we've been talking about the Holy Spirit and looking at what his activity in our lives can look like.

Well, I had one thing planned to write today but something really amazing happened this week that I need to share instead.

The following thing happened hot on the heels of us talking about breakthrough in the last post:

This week I’ve been on holiday in a town called Queenstown. A close friend and her family have been with us and, like most of the people we spend time with, they are not yet believers.

The husbands and kids took off skiing for the day, and so my friend and I grabbed tea and cake in a café.

Girl-chat ensued and she began to share some hard things she’s been through lately - Really, really hard stuff. I sat there not knowing how to help except to listen. And then she said "I can’t believe God is real, because if he were why would I be suffering like this? And if there is a God why is there suffering in the world anyway?"

"That’s a good question," I said. "I asked that a lot myself a few years ago."

We paused and looked out the window. 

"How’s it all going for you anyway, Ann, that part of your life?" she asked. She's a nice friend and has always been unusually kind about my faith.

And so I shared what that looked like for me. Specifically, I described a bit about what it felt like to know his presence in my life. I began to laugh a little and told her I'm pretty far gone - God is all over me, in me, and is everything to me.

That’s when it happened. She leaned back as if in reaction to what I said, and exclaimed: “Wow, I just got a picture land in my head! It was of a flame of fire on my head.”

"WHATT?" I exclaimed. "Do you know, that’s how God speaks?"

She stared at me, stunned. She started to cry. So did I.

Instantly I thought of the disciples at Pentecost with fire on their heads in Acts 2:1-4. So I asked for clarification -

“Umm... Was the flame on your head or mine?”

“It was on mine,” she said, eyes wide.

It was on her head. Her head. Wow.

We sat back and looked at each other, and all the while my heart was quietly holding this thought: "I think God is telling me that the fire in me is going to catch and land on her, or it just has. I think she's going to be on fire for him too."

I wasn't thinking especially clearly at this point, but this came out of my mouth next:

"There’s a passage in the Bible about this: The disciples of Jesus had fire on their heads when they received the Holy Spirit. I think you've just heard something from God about something in the Bible."

"Ohh, I remember that passage from growing up in the Catholic Church..." she sat there eyeing me up, still stunned.

We reached for our forks again and took a massive gulp of cake and tea at this point. And then we talked about nothing but God for half an hour; hot drinks in hand, people around us. 

Much later she texted me, "Ann, is it me or was that a really big deal, what happened there in the cafe?!”

“It was huge.” I texted back, trying to contain myself over the airwaves. I then sent her the scripture in the book of Acts and told her she'd just experienced the Holy Spirit.

By then, I was back in my hotel room. The boys were still skiing, and all I could do was put some worship music on and sit back digesting what had just happened. As I said in my last post --

Jehovah Perazim, you are the Lord of breakthrough.

I think I want to pray for more of this in our community, so much more, so shall we pray?

Lord God, we ask for more! Breathe on our relationships, and make it easy for us to share YOU with the people we love. Bring your Holy Spirit into their lives, and bring more of your fire to us, as much as we can handle. Thank you, Jesus, in your name, Amen.

Love you all, friends, and I'll see you in the comments. 

Ann


A Backyard Miracle??

Mark 9_41
Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Hello SUMers!!

I pray as you read this you are blessed and filled with overwhelming hope!  Jesus is King!!!!

A quick story: This morning I was sitting in my new backyard enjoying the birds and the sun. While sipping my coffee and with my Bible open on my lap, my husband emerged and sat next to me. We chatted about the millions of tasks that we are still facing as we are slowly moving in.

After that discussion, I looked down into my Bible. And I said, "Do you want me to read to you from the Word of God?"

Sheepishly, "No."

That didn't deter me. I simply began to read a passage, "Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward."

Mike then says to me, "That what you do all the time when you give a bottle of water to everyone who comes here to do any repair work on our house."

I've been doing this for years. 

I looked up, "Wow, I didn't even realize that I was doing this." I smiled BIG. It's fun to discover that God lives in you so much that you live out His will even unknowingly.

BUT, this is the BEST PART OF THE STORY: Later in the day electrician, Gregg, arrived to repair our A/C unit. We blew a fuse, darn it!

I'm in my office as Mike and Greg are chatting. Then suddenly I hear Mike say, "Can I get you a bottle of water?"

My friends, THEY ARE ALWAYS LISTENING. I took one brave moment to read the word to my husband, even when he wasn't interested.

He was listening. 

They are watching and listening. No pressure. Just live an authentic love with Jesus. THAT is all.

I adore you. Lynn


A Question for God: What is My Sphere?

Hi everyone, hope you're having a good week.

Following my last blog post on 'These challenging times', I thought I'd share a good question we can ask God next. It comes with an interesting God story too.

Hope you enjoy this one, and let's chat in the comments.

Ann

 


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


When Someone Seems Impenetrable to the Gospel

Hello friends, Ann here! Stubborn dog

After our recent series on the Gospel, this week I'd like to share two specific words that God gave me a while ago about our activity in carrying the Gospel.

I'll share one of these words today, the other on Friday, and I hope they help you along as they have done for me.

Today's word is about impenetrable people. I can imagine many of you now will be nodding and saying "Oh yes, I've got one of those!" Truly, some people are so impenetrable that there's not even a chance of conversation about the Gospel. Right?

In my life, one guy in particular stands out to me. He is someone Bryce and I have known socially for years and he openly dislikes Christians. Because of this, he is a 'very difficult person' in my life.  

I often pray, "Do you want me to stay in his life, Lord?!" Well, circumstances seem to keep me there.

What I do with this guy is stay quiet about the Gospel, but love him. And when I say 'love him', it's actions not feelings; because my feelings struggle. I don't talk to him much if we're both at a social event; but 'Love' is what I try to do: In how I speak about him, and in prayer. 

With these impenetrable ones, I've found Jesus's Parable of the Sower a great help for understanding what's happening:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:3-9, NIV)

Then, Jesus gives the interpretation:

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (v. 18-23)

The bolded part above tells us that what's happening when someone seems 'impenetrable': The enemy snatches the Gospel away. That's sad. But, as Jesus says, it's part of the process. Bowl of seeds

An important lesson from this parable is that the attitude of an impenetrable person is not our fault. We can too easily beat ourselves up and think we're being ineffective (I do!) But, the truth is, the seed's gone out -- It's just been snatched.

Back to the guy above, I've had heartache there. But in June God gave me a word of perspective that helped me. He said this:

"Ann, messages about the Gospel have been left with him, but never opened."

And I believe the same can be said for many others in our lives. So, to me, this is a word for us all. 

Whether those Gospel 'messages' given to this guy were quietly from me, or whether they are messages he received elsewhere, I don't know. But the point is, the Gospel has been given to him and something's stopped him -- Until now.

I actually do believe that this guy will finally open the Gospel message and take a look; but if it's the enemy snatching the message away, then I have a job to do: Pray that the enemy stops snatching the Gospel from him. 

Amen to that -- And I'll keep going! How have you carried the Gospel with an impenetrable person? Let's chat in the comments.

Ann


The Gospel -- What is it?

GospelMy friends, we're currently in a series about Carrying the Gospel in our Homes, and I've loved your input so far - Thanks!

It was particularly interesting last Friday when we chatted about 'What is the Gospel?' and we each came up with different things that it meant to us. Perhaps that shouldn't be too surprising as the Bible presents a multi-faceted picture of the Gospel too.

Anyway, today I thought it'd be interesting to chat a bit more about that question: What is the Gospel?

In the Bible the word 'Gospel' (euangelion in Greek) is used 77 times, but in different ways. Across these 77 instances, it's referred to as:

The Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g., Romans 15:19). Gospel pic

The Gospel of the Kingdom (e.g., Matthew 4:23).

The Gospel of the Grace of God (e.g., Acts 20:24).

The Gospel of God (e.g., Romans 1:1).

The Gospel of Your Salvation (e.g., Ephesians 1:13).

The Gospel of Peace (e.g., Ephesians 6:15).

In each of these cases, the word 'Gospel' is used quickly in a sentence, and then the writer moves on. It's almost as if it's too big to describe in that moment. It is, however, described as 'truth', 'fellowship', 'glorious', and 'a mystery'. Further, that word euangelion means 'Glad Tidings', so it's really, really good!

In his own preaching of the Gospel Jesus said, "Repent", but he followed it with: "For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" So, yes, it does include a very real call to repentance. And, the stark fact is that some will reject God. But our job is to bring the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven.

And so, we carry this Good News in our homes, daily, and over long years. It's seen by our spouse all the time. Whether or not we say a word about it. It will (metaphorically) ooze out of our pores as we live out our Christian life and make all the choices we make as SUMites.

Now, here's an extra little thing: I mentioned in Monday's post that I know someone who is an evangelist. He's an older minister than me and he runs the New Zealand branch of a global ministry (Evangelism Explosion) that teaches Christians how to share the Gospel. It's a great ministry! Anyway, a few weeks ago he invited me to come on one of his courses and, as I write, we're currently midway through.

Now you'd think for a SUMite we'd know a lot about this topic ... Yes, yes we do. But, I am not an evangelist, and I believe I can benefit from putting myself in a room with those who are. Indeed, this course is turning out to be very enjoyable with plenty of new things to think about. 

One of the things my evangelist friend has given us in the course is an outline of the Gospel, showing how it has five elements to it: Heaven, Man, God, Jesus, and Faith. The idea is that we can use these five elements to think about how chat to others when sharing our faith. Here they are:

The Gospel:

"(1) Heaven is a free gift. It is not earned or deserved.

(2) Man is a sinner. He cannot save himself.

(3) God is Love and doesn't want to punish us. But God is just and must punish our sin. 

(4) Christ is both God and man. He died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase a place in Heaven for us.

(5) Faith is not just head knowledge, nor is it temporary faith. True saving faith is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for our eternal life."

(Quoted from the Evangelism Explosion manual)

Can that outline help us a little more, I wonder? I, for one, am going to blue-tack it up on my kitchen wall for a week or so and mull over how I carry these five messages.

We may find, even, that we have the opportunity to chat about one of these five areas to our spouse in the course of natural conversation. In any case, we can be sure that as carriers of this message our spouse will see it. They will see what we believe; and they will see what we stand for. And that is our great commission fulfilled.

I look forward to chatting in the comments, as always, and have a lovely weekend.

Ann


'Preaching' the Gospel -- To a Spouse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This scripture here reminds us to keep going:

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

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

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

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

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

Ann


A Letter From Jesus. You Need This Today!

My Beloved Child LetterSUMites,

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

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

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

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

Believe MY WORDS. They are life!

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

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

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

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

This brings me the greatest joy!!!!!

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

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

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

I love you. Lynn


From A Black Friend to My White Friends

SUMites,

UnityWe need to chat. I realize that we don’t often take on social issues here at SUM as we are trying to focus on our marriages. However, I know that so much of my marriage discord would rise to the surface because of the social climate, politics, and religion.

So, today, I am compelled to talk about what’s happening in America this week. After a long discussion with Caitie, my daughter who is 25, I’ve had to reflect on the tragedy that was the death of George Floyd. I’m grieved over all of it. I’m grieved over his death, the racism, the riots and the looting.

I’ve had to take a look at my heart again in the midst of this mess and ask some difficult questions. My friend, Kathi Lipp, directed me to a great read. I want to share it with you today. Although I don’t have all the answers, this article addresses questions that white people often ask:

  • Why did he/she do to cause the cops/another person to shoot or kill them?
  • Why do black people insist on “Black Lives Matter”? Don’t all lives matter?
  • Why do “they” try to make white people like me feel guilty? I haven’t done anything.
  • I have black friends so why are black people calling people like me racist?

The Article: From a Black Friend to My White Friends.

Barb Roose, a Christian, offers some great responses and a good video that will help move all of us forward. Take a minute to visit her blog and read through the article and watch the video. Ask yourself, what does Jesus want me to pray, to do, to feel and to respond to this week’s events and the at the center racism that continues to create division in our country.

Also, ask Jesus how to have conversations with your spouse and your children about this week’s events and the news. Let’s be the change our world needs. Isn’t that what Jesus calls us to do?

I realize that this topic is highly charged on every side. Please share your thoughts in the comments but please be respectfully, use words of love and consideration and always look to Jesus for the truth.

Blessings, Lynn


Marriage Devotion - Patty Tower

Forgiving My Spouse


Patty TowerForgiveness is not just an act we do for someone else, it is more so an act we do for ourselves. Unforgiveness harbors resentment, bitterness, anger, and negativity. When we harbor these emotions, the act of portraying love faints away. Is that what I want for my marriage?

I thought about what forgiving my husband looks like and it’s not me saying to him, “I forgive you.” It means to internally release all my negative emotions regarding the small battles to God.

Maybe in my mind, he’s talking to me in a demeaning tone. And instead of me snapping back, I address it. Whether he wants to fix it or argue about it, I simply…move on. If he replies back, “I wasn’t trying to talk down to you,” and instead of debating, “yes you were.” I respond, “Oh ok.” And move on.

It’s deciding in my heart to forgive him for that quick small moment and pray to God to soften his heart. Forgiveness is in the quick small moments of our everyday.  

Reflection: Think of a common small moment where you can forgive. What was in the moment that made you feel a negative emotion? Ask God to show you how to forgive or whether to address an issue. If it’s forgiveness, write it down and pray God will continue to give you a heart of humility, grace, and mercy towards your husband/wife.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32 

“As he hung on the cross – And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” – Luke 23:24 

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13


Some Thoughts on Arguments Against the Bible

Ann here! Ask God about the Bible

Recently a reader posted a question for the SUM community that many of us would relate to. It seems a good one to share here, and I wonder if we could add any answers to her question in the comments?

Her question was this (paraphrased slightly):

“My husband is reading and using a particular anti-Christian book to ‘convince’ me the Bible is not the truth. Does anyone have any input, or has anyone read this book?”

The book that she attached to her question (in a photo) had words splashed across the cover, proclaiming in big letters that the Bible was full of absurdities, contradictions, and other things 'wrong'.

I spotted her question and dived in. I’ve never been an atheist, but I have been in the shoes of one reading such a book, having been agnostic and difficult to persuade. Quite honestly, it took a lot to get me over the line into full belief in God. Given that experience, here’s what I wrote back:

“Hi! 

During my process of conversion I read a lot of atheist/anti-Christian arguments and looked into them. My biggest thing to say in response to a book like this is that people can intellectualize themselves into any corner, but the only way to know what is true is to straight-out ask God if He is real and, if so, what is true. Unless people have asked that question of God directly, they haven't been sufficiently thorough. Really, they often don't want to know.

The Bible does stand up to scrutiny perfectly well, but in certain parts one has to have the Holy Spirit when reading it. Without the Holy Spirit something might appear to be an absurdity or a contradiction. WITH the Holy Spirit, that same 'absurdity' or 'contradiction' becomes a work of genius where all you can do is fall on your knees because it's so clever.”

In our current culture there’s a lot of clamor against the Bible. It can be loud and dominating (Proverbs 9:13-15). However, my question to a clamorous one would be: “Yes, but have you asked God?” After all, He promises in scripture that those who seek Him will find answers.

That process of asking God is something that takes effort, will, and integrity. It takes time on our knees. It takes thought. It is something quite different to picking a popular book off the shelf and believing one author's personal argument that God is a 'delusion' without properly questioning God open-heartedly. This effort is captured in Proverbs 9's description of wisdom, showing that there's a lot of work that goes in -- Perhaps years of work:

Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars; she has slaughtered her meat, she has mixed her wine, she has also furnished her table. She has sent out her maidens, she cries out from the highest places of the city, 'Whoever is simple let him turn in here!' As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, 'Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding'.

Proverbs 9:1-6, NKJV.

At this point I might hand over to everyone else to add their thoughts. It'd be interesting to hear your comments on the following:

  • Does your spouse read these atheist books?
  • If so, how do you handle that?

Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend!

Ann


Thanksgiving and Kanye West

Hello SUMers!

So, around this time of year I always post about my Tablecloth of Thanks. But I’m puzzled over something that is happening right now in the church. So, let’s chat about that instead.

If you are new to SUM, please, PLEASE read about this amazing Thanksgiving tradition that also can be gently shared with an unbelieving spouse and family. It’s truly a family heirloom. My daughter has claim on ours as part of her inheritance. Read it here: Tablecloth of Thanks

Now onto Kanye.

First, I’m not a fan of his music, even his new album, Jesus is King. (No offense Kanye, just not my style.) I don’t know much about his life prior to his salvation experience other than he married Kim Kardashian. Weird that I even know that????

Jesus KingBut, I’m absolutely perplexed by the circus that is happening in the church over his recent salvation experience and the meetings he’s been holding. I receive an email daily about it all. Those who are suspect and those who are on the Kanye train. And all social media platforms are ablaze over the Kanye fracas. Sheesh!

Several years ago, what most of America missed ,was that Kanye had a complete breakdown. He was battling demons and voices and it was God who rescued him. I remember reading about this and I knew then what was happening. God was calling him. The demons, there were likely many, were putting up a ferocious fight so much so that Kanye cancelled his engagements for a year and received counseling. I believe that precipitated his entre into the Kingdom.

I keep coming back to this question. And I believe God is asking the same thing. Why do we always tear one another down? It’s no wonder the devil is laughing in his coffee. He doesn’t need to spend efforts destroying our unity, we do it ourselves. From my nearly 40 decades of faith experience, I’m of the position that we need to stop judging the salvation experience of another Christian.

Doesn’t the Word of God tell us we can determine or discern a person saved/unsaved by their fruit?

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? —Matthew 7:16

And even judging the fruit we must lean far, far toward mercy. If any of you lived with me and Mike, you would not know Mike is a believer. He hasn’t changed much since his baptism. He doesn’t attend church. But the small changes in his character and that he now prays, this speaks of his heart. His real faith. There is fruit but he absolutely does not look like what most people expect to see, a Bible thumping, church going, scripture spewing believer.

Personally, I am so very hopeful and praying for Kanye and his family. The pressure they must be under is tremendous. It’s nearly impossible to be a Christian in Hollywood and the family of God hasn’t been much kinder to Kanye.

This man could be one of God’s unexpected heroes. (God LOVES to use people like this. It makes Him look that much more amazing and wise.) Kanye could be a man of God who brings healing between the races and the love of Christ to masses that would never have listened in the first place.

I'll bet you that our unbelievers are watching how all of this plays out. Oh how I hope they see in Kanye how a real relationship with Jesus is so important, so transformative, that even a multimillionaire, superstar is willing to throw it away for the cause of Christ.

Be patient. Did you mess up as a new Christian? How much to you still mess up after years of faith. Let's let Kanye's fruit speak and let's be merciful as our Father is merciful. 

Thoughts? Be kind! Lynn


Marriage Devotion - Patty Tower

My spouse is worthy of praise & honor

PATTY tOWER 2018I read an article about a woman in church talking to a couple members about her husband, and everything she spoke out of her mouth regarding her husband was negative. The members began to think negatively about her husband and the character of the man she married. When in reality, she married a good man, but she chose to only focus on the negative.

I reflected on my own actions and thought, “What if my husband spoke to others about me the way I spoke of him? What kind of Christian would I be?” I made a commitment to speak of my husband in a positive light in front of others. And if I ever had an issue with him, I decided I needed to talk to him respectfully about my issues or to seek counsel and wisdom.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” – Matthew 15:18

Reflection: Think of the last negative thing you said about your spouse and write them here. Ask God for forgiveness and ask him to help you speak about your spouse in a positive light. Pray you will see what God sees. Ask God to remind you that your partner was made in His image and likeness and that he crafted him with godly qualities.


SUMites, You Are Brave Enough.....

EstherSUMites,

All of the undertones that we uncovered in Esther are powerful and new gifts to our faith.

Today, I want to talk about the unequally yoked aspect of this story. I also want to point out Esther’s divine calling and how it’s fulfilled.

In reality, all of us that are unequally yoked, could take a few notes from Esther. What truly is astonishing is the influence she extended over the most powerful man in the world. Whoa!! So, how did she achieve this kind of power?

She listened. Esther must have been extraordinarily bright. Upon her arrival in the Kings palace, she was intentional to keenly follow the instructions of Hegai. Now, most of you know I have a vivid imagination so go with me here. Hegia was no fool. He knew what the King liked – in the bedroom- I’ll bet money he told Esther what and how to do…. It…. *grin* Also, she wore and took with her only what the King’s eunuch suggested (Esther 2: 15)

What is suggested all over the place but isn’t mentioned emphatically is this: Esther realized the implications of her potential. She was selfless and willing to follow advice from wise counselors. She listened to Mordicai. She listened to Hegai.

I wonder, who are we listening to? Where are we obtaining our truth? Esther listened to the right people and she perceived the greater assignment that awaited. She saved a nation! One little girl!

Esther fulfills her highest and greatest destiny that God wrote in her book before time began (Psalm 139:16). She gathered her courage and stepped before the scepter, risking her life. She was brave in the face of fear.

If we take anything from this study, let’s choose to be brave. We must petition the King for the deliverance of our unsaved family members. It’s risky to stand up for what is right. Let’s choose to be self-less in our pursuit of the highest and best.

So today let’s choose BRAVE:

  • You are brave enough when you choose to believe the impossible. (With Christ all things are possible.)
  • You are brave enough when you forgive. (Forgiveness frees you.)
  • You are brave enough when you are patient (The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9)
  • You are brave enough when you wake up every morning and choose LOVE over fear. (For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7)
  • You are brave enough when you say “NO” and when you say “YES.”
  • You are brave enough when you ask for help and prayer.
  • You are brave enough to show your love even in difficult and risky relationships.

Well done Warriors! Esther has nothing on you. For you were born for EXACTLY such a time as this!

SUMITE, what are you being brave about right now? What holds your heart in the night? What do you pray in the morning? What is your brave heart asking of God today? Share with me. I want to pray with you in the comments. Your petitions will be heard in heaven because I’m asking with you.

Keep showing up! You are BRAVE!

Hugs, Lynn


It's Worth The Waiting! Chronicles of the Donovan Clan

1 Corinthians 13Hello SUMite Nation!

Lynn here. I’m coming to you from my prayer room on a beautiful and somewhat unusually cool July morning here in southern California. It’s peaceful and a breeze is drifting in the front window. Oh, how I wish you were sitting here with me. I long to sit with each of you and listen to your story. I will one day. And it will be GLORY!

I just clicked off the phone after talking to my mother who called to check in on the job search, the book progress but mainly to tell me, I love you.

But as we talked about the book she said, “Lynn, I’ve shared that story with nearly everyone I meet. I tell it over and over.” She’s talking about Mike’s baptism story. “I tell them to NEVER give up praying.”

Never give up praying.

Don’t stop hoping.

Always lean into the impossible.

Twenty-seven years. I won’t look back at the years with longing for what might have been. I look back at the decades and see Jesus in every turn along the journey. I view the Father’s hand of favor and love and I feel the peace of the Holy Spirit as the Trinity lived within.

It was worth the price of waiting.

To all the weary SUMites, who linger in prayer and continue loving Jesus and your unsaved spouse, words from my beloved mother who has lived with the Lord for nearly eighty years, “Don’t give up hope. Don’t stop praying.”

I adore you my friends. Stay tuned because God is brewing up more fantastical stories in the Donovan Clan. I feel the excitement in the air and can’t wait to share all He brings about in our immediate future.

March on Warrior!!!!  WE WIN!!

Hugs, Lynn


The Christian “ITCH”

Welcome Patty Tower our SUM Facebook Page Admin. She brings a great perspective to our online community. 

*****

Hand lotionSUMites. I have to say…some of the praises and posts on our Facebook group on giving thanks has been breaking down walls. Can any of you feel it? I know I do!

“God is on the move, on the move, halleluuuu-jah! God is on the move, on the move todaaayyy (insert me singing Newsboys here. If you don’t know this song, look it up!)”

Thank you for your testimonies, encouragement, prayers and vulnerability. I appreciate this group more than words can say, and I’m being corny, but I am truly honored you have allowed me to be a part of your life, praying for your families.

Last time I wrote, I spoke of being self-righteous, and using Bible knowledge to win over our friends, family, and dun dun dun…even our spouses.

I’m coining this term “the Christian ITCH,” because heck, who knows, if I have it you all may have it too. It really is like a rash. It starts out small, and the more your scratch and itch, the rash becomes bigger. Next thing you know, you have this unsightly red mark on your skin and you may even use makeup foundation to cover it up.

This “itch” relates to my overly, self-intellectual, righteousness to basically OVER-SHARE Bible facts to win over my husband (when in most cases, it really isn’t necessary).

This “Christian Itch” is something that is sort of a mirror to my overly self-righteous self. It’s similar in my need to over share. The only difference is, it doesn’t affect people around me, but it may possibly affect my relationship with Jesus.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE this group and I love my sisters in Christ. However, I am guilty of “itching” this sin.

It’s the overwhelming desire to vent. To dump all of our feelings in one place, rather than taking it up with the Father. We want some sort of affirmation and justification from our fellow sisters rather than taking it up with Christ.

Phew. I’ve said it and trust me. I’ve been guilty of this millions of times and the Holy Spirit is currently in the process of nipping it in the bud.

Proverbs 29:11 says:

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds back.”

Proverbs 18:2 also says:

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

Venting or expressing our emotions aka. The “Christian Itch”, is using social media or Christian sisters as our dumping grounds. Venting ultimately implies God is not powerful enough to take care of us or take care of our situations. Like an itch, once we start venting, it spreads and spirals out of control.

The moments where I have vomited all of my emotions: anger, rage, sadness, insecurity…I feel this whisper say to me, “Patty, now that you’ve said all that, what did you really accomplish?”

Gulp.

Most of the time…it’s absolutely nothing.

This is a prime opportunity, where I need to pray and have a conversation with my Father to evaluate, to seek his face in my circumstances. Perhaps go to Psalms and say “Father, cover me. Show me a perspective where I’m not seeing.”

I’ve allowed my emotions to consume me when God’s word says, “cast all your worries onto me.”

What I’ve realized is my venting only provides temporary comfort. Just like your makeup foundation, it only covers it temporarily. Venting doesn’t address the REAL ISSUE of what’s going on inside. Rather than allowing this itch to get bigger, I need to allow God to heal, so that the itch can be gone…for good.

As women, we have been accustomed to “talking through” our circumstances, but we need to discern on what “talking through” really means. Are you actually wanting some constructive feedback? Or was your goal to lash out everything you’ve been feeling (online of offline)?

God is omniscient. It means He is all seeing, all knowing, wise, and well-informed of what’s going on. It’s up to me, to allow myself to view my life from His PERSPECTIVE. Is there something else going on? What am I not seeing? Is there a part of my heart that needs healing?

Am I blocking myself from receiving God’s blessing? Am I allowing the enemy to control my thoughts?

This Christian Itch…it’s really this turmoil inside. Guess what. God is so the opposite of turmoil. He is the God of Peace.

With that said, dear sisters, may our God through Jesus Christ, give you all the peace that surpasses understanding. May He give you wisdom with your words…even with your words as you type it out on a Facebook post. I desire for you all to have peace in your hearts and I know for fact, God does too.

God bless you all! Love you. ~Patty


The Influence of a Christian Wife - This is good!

Profile for TypepadGood Day SUMites!

Hope you are off to a brilliant summer.

This morning in my Daily Bible reading I came across the following passage and God began to talk. Want to know what He said? It’s really good.

1Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. 2 The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. 3 He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. ─ 1 Kings 11:1-3

The Lord spoke immediately upon reading these verses, “Lynn, the wisest man in the world, the wisest of all humanity that has ever lived, was drawn away from Me by the influence of his evil wives. How much greater is the influence of a Godly wife on an unbelieving spouse.”

“You (wives of unbelievers) underestimate the influence you carry. You allow the lies of the deceiver to hold sway over the truth that Christian wives are utterly equipped and able to influence their husbands into faith in Jesus Christ. This is truth. Live it!”

Whoa.

Thoughts?

My thoughts: KEEP TALKING GOD! YOU ARE AMAZING AND WE LOVE YOU!


Love DEFEATS Knowledge

PATTY tOWER 2018By Patty tower  

We are over a month post conference and boy…not only is God doing a work in me, but doing a work in my husband! Hallelujah and amen.

I’m excited that God is opening doors of spiritual discussions between my husband I, and I’m thrilled to see where these discussions will lead. God will pave a way for my husband’s salvation, yes, but like many other women in this community realize…it comes at a price. The price of truly getting to know myself through the Savior first.

Sometimes, I have to be careful about what I ask. When I prayed, “God give me your heart and show me your ways.” You had better believe He will show you…and sometimes, it stings.

Recently, it occurred to me during in a conversation with my close sisters in Christ, that I may be too “self-righteous,” too “passionate,” and I may come on “too strong” when I talk about Jesus. The Bible encourages us to walk in holiness and righteousness, but was I really being self-righteousness? Was my righteousness the way to go?

Some thesaurus synonyms of self-righteous includes: holier-than-thou, self-satisfied, smug, priggish, pious, moralizing, preachy, superior, and hypocritical. It’s basically the opposite of humility. It’s the opposite of Jesus and what He came to earth to fight against. Those characteristics screamed of everything the religious “Pharisees” stood for in my head.

I didn’t know this about myself until now. I was having a hard time balancing my passion and spreading the gospel in a loving way.  God wasn’t telling me to stop spreading the gospel, but in my pursuit to tell others of my Bible knowledge, I was pushing them away from Jesus ,rather than drawing them in.

Bible knowledge is great, but what good is knowledge if you’re not representing the true love of Christ?

I felt like I failed Him. I failed God and others by not reflecting the love of Christ.

I dug deep and asked my Father, Why am I like this? Where is it coming from?

God answered. The root of it was simple. I had this inner desire to be heard. Growing up in my household, I was rarely heard. The type of relationship I had with my parents was more like a dictatorship. “Do as you’re told…or else.”

I remember memories of me begging them to “hear me out.” I was constantly trying to “convince,” them why they ought to trust me with friendships at school or joining school sports. My opinions or what I had to say were not valued. It was “my way or the highway,” or “because I said so.” I intellectually fought them because I felt like it was the only way that would lead me to freedom outside of my home.

My family prided themselves on being right. And I honestly, I don’t care if you’re right or wrong…I just want to feel loved. To feel protected, honored, valuable...to be heard. Isn’t that why we all love Jesus? Because he provides all those things other people may not be able to?

I was intellectually convincing people why the Bible was the source of truth. When God’s only commandment to me is 1) Love God first. 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. I had to put myself in my neighbor’s shoes and ask, “Would I want to know more about Jesus hearing what I heard from myself?” The answer was no, probably not.

God forgives and He honors our mistakes. But really, I felt like one of those people standing with a sign at a public venue that says, “Believe in Jesus or you will go to hell!” You know what I mean.

In all thankfulness, I have people in my life who can hold me accountable. In God’s perfect timing, He also starts to open more spiritual discussions with my husband. If it weren’t for sisters in Christ, I probably would have vomited Bible knowledge to people who didn’t even care! They just need Jesus!

Jeremiah 9:23 says “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom…”

My most important question to Jesus was, “Other than prayer, how do I go about spreading your gospel now?” I’ve been confirmed in this season it is time my husband hears about the Lord. I’ve been “winning” him through my actions and now it’s through my voice.

The answer was simple. Testify.

Testify what God has done in your life.

Testify the goodness of God.

Testify how he healed you.

Testify the miracles you have witnessed because of Him.

Testify. Luke 8:39 says:

“’Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming through the whole city how much Jesus has done for him.”

I love you all and I’m thankful for a community like you who understands the growing pains of being more Christ-like. Thank you all for your words of wisdom and prayer.

I will see you in the comments!


A Road Well Worth It

Hi friends, Ann here!

Have you ever looked in the rear-view mirror, glimpsed the road behind you, and realized that something’s changed? That happened to me recently in relation to a friend who didn't want to know about faith. I thought I'd share the story today.Rear view mirror SUM

When I first turned to God, I began to tell my friends my testimony. Little did I know how unenthusiastic they would be. In their eyes it was a ‘fairy tale’. I realize now that this is normal, but at the time I was perplexed: “How can you not believe me?" 

I had a particular friend who epitomized this. At the mention of my faith she literally had a physical reaction. She raced to the other side of the shop we were in, and starting looking at shelves with her back to me. The months that followed brought honesty about her feelings towards Christians. Then came her husband, with similar reactions. They warned me off the ‘danger of religion’, shaking their heads as if I was a weakling who’d been sucked in. It was pretty painful to be viewed this way. Nevertheless, I stayed friends: I liked them.

Eventually they moved away but recently, after a couple of years' absence, I got a surprise email: “We’re in town, can we meet?” It was a big “YES” from me, we set up a time and day, and time found us gathered round a homely kitchen table with cake and tea.

Now, my heart at this point had become quite bruised. For some time I’d been feeling like I was lying in the corner of a battlefield, enduring atheist swipes. Anti-Christ sentiments among those near and dear had become bruising thumps against my shield of faith. Bang. Bang. Bang. I was tired – I’m sure you know the feeling. Yet:

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV).

Indeed, that day as we sat at the same table with cake and tea, the swipes seemed to disappear and something altogether different happened. As I took a sip of tea my dear friend came out with a question that had clearly been brewing:

“Ann, tell me, are you still a Christian? If so, how has that affected your marriage?  And Bryce, how are you coping with it?”

Woah. What? Of all our friends, none have ever asked me about my faith; they don’t want to know. None have asked that honest question about our life and marriage, and Bryce and I had never, up to that point, had the opportunity to talk about this situation to someone else, side by side. In essence we were being asked to tell our shared story.

And so we talked. I gave my testimony. Bryce joined in. I put my hand on his leg. We talked about the fact that you experience it or you don’t. We talked about a sense of calling. We talked about church and denominations, churches being clubbish, relationship versus religion, about how you can’t give up your faith, about how we still love each other, and about respecting each other within a marriage.

Our boys sat munching cake. Everyone at the table had open ears, including me.

Later, tucking the boys in, some childlike wisdom came, sweet and helpful: “Mum, don’t worry about other people. If you like something, you just do it.” Good words fitly spoken. 

That day represented a shift. Someone who had been so opposed to my faith actually listened. What’s more, my husband and I sat together, talking authentically about it to others. These friends of ours would never go near a church but what they were willing to hear is our story and reality, because it is a raw and real account. In that way, we did it together, he and I. Thank God for my husband's place in all this; and yes, we feel the blows, but we also keep going because who knows where it goes!

How about you? What rear-vision experiences have you had, looking back and seeing that something shifted? 


When God Asks Questions. Ugh!

Friends,

Today, I'm sharing the Let's TALK LIVE video from Wednesday. It’s vulnerable. It’s real. It’s God’s thoughts about our assignment in a spiritually mismatched marriage.

I love you. March on Warriors!!  Lynn


Slay..... The Marriage Killers.... FINANCES

Slay The Marriage KillersHello SUMite Nation,

Well it’s astonishing that half of January has passed already. We have fasted and the Summit registration went live. Already registrations are rolling in from Florida, New Zealand, Michigan, Washington DC, Minnesota, Nevada, Australia, and a few more places.

Oh, I’m so hopeful you can be here. This is going to be the Family Reunion/Family Summit of a lifetime! Here is the link to register, Hear The Roar. Here is the link to the Facebook Travel Group.

I’ve pondered over what to write about in the last few weeks. And sometimes I think I’ve said all I have to say about marriage to a pre-believer. However, I know that there are new readers arriving who haven’t walked this unique marriage path for the number of years as I have and because of that, I want write about the basics again.

For those of you who have been married to your spouse for more than 20 years, I’m asking you to add your experience, wisdom and encouragement to the discussions. Please take time to read the posts and share your thoughts. Your love and voice is needed to encourage some young wife sitting at her kitchen table, ready to throw in the towel. (That was me once.)

So, let’s talk about Marriage Killers.

In the next several post I’m going to share the top marriage killers. I’m asking the community to share your thoughts in the comments. Perhaps these posts will turn into a book one day that will help the next generation. So please share.

CONFLICT OVER MONEY

Fights about spending, credit card debt, and financial over commitment are the fuel to crash and burn a marriage.

Mike and I are fortunate because this is ONE area where we agree. It’s likely due to my many years as a banker, (I worked for 25 years in corporate America as a banker. I retired a Vice President/Lending Manager after starting as a bank teller as a teenager.) I gained an appreciation for financial restraint and a strong sense of responsibility over my checkbook. (I could be fired from my job if I bounced a check. I needed my job!)

Mike gained his financial accountability from his years as a starving college student. But what if you weren’t taught to budget? What if you grew up and mom and dad who virtually gave you whatever you wanted? Or what if spending and saving were not taught, talked about, nor modeled?

Destructive conflict with regard to finances in a marriage is where there are two spenders and a tit-for-tat attitude by both.

He says, “If she spends that much, then I will too.”

She thinks: If he is spending his paycheck like that, then I’m going to do the same.

Similar conflict exists where one spouse is responsible but the other lacks financial responsibility and disrespects the values of the saver.

Examples exist on both sides of the sexes. A husband drives home a new truck to an astonished and heartbroken wife who is saddled with a car payment they can’t afford and was not included in a large financial decision. OR a wife continues to spend on the credit card even when her husband points out they aren’t making a dent in paying it down.

In the Donovan home, throughout our entire marriage I have handled the checkbook, bank accounts, filed the tax returns and managed most of our money decisions. The stress of meeting obligations has weighed heavily upon me. This is true of every person who handles the money for the marriage. There were years where we lived paycheck-to-paycheck and I worried how and when to purchase groceries, pay the insurance or balance the bills.

And before my marriage, there were weeks I would pay the bills as a single mother and have $25 left for gas to get me to work for two weeks. Scary. But by the grace of God.

However, I always found a way to get the bills paid and I forced myself into restraint. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t splurge in certain circumstances. I did. But not outside of what I could afford.

So, SUMites it’s tax season. It’s time to talk finances with your spouse. If you are walking on eggshells over your money, it’s time to visit Dave Ramsey and get yourself out of debt. It’s time to take control of your finances and bring peace into your lives. It will be difficult at first but becoming financially free from debt and the constant stress of financial pressure will release an enormous freedom over your marriage.

Start with prayer. God cares a great deal about our money. There are over 500 verses in the Bible about money and 40% of Jesus’ parables deal with money. Ask the Lord to help you. Ask the Lord for supernatural provision. I could share several stories about when I needed money or provision and the EXACT amount came into my hands within the week.

But, God also expects his people to have self-control (gift of the Spirit). So ask for, and exercise, self-control and make a commitment together with your spouse about how and when to spend money. Talk about the boundaries that need to be set if one or the other oversteps this commitment.

Ask God for the money to get to the conference. I can’t wait to hear your story when it shows up.

Alrighty, what is your story about marriage and money? I’ll see you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn


Fill Your Kitchen With Love

IMG_1236Now for something completely different.

You know, I have discovered a secret to a happy marriage. Well at least it applies to the Donovan Clan.

Feed the man.

I’ve learned to cook. I didn’t know much more than spaghetti when we married. But I find cooking is one of the creative expressions I enjoy, a gift from God. So today, I’m delighting in the beauty and abundance of Autumn. I want to share what’s going on in the kitchen.

From my Pomegranate tree out back:

  Pom 2018

IMG_1238

IMG_1239

Roasted Veggies with pomegranate: A Pioneer Woman Recipe Served with Salmon with a mustard and brown sugar glaze.

Roasted Fall Veggies
I forgot the poms in this pic... Oopie. Grin. But it turned out great!

Yum and eee.  I was pulling the seeds out of the shell, when all of a sudden a spider was crawling across the cutting board. Eeeeek! 

Love you SUMite Nation! Hugs, Lynn

Fill your home with the smells of home cooking. Find your creative side in the kitchen. Enjoy some of these simple but wonderful treasures of living the abundant life.


Life Is Too Short to Live Any Way but Happy! By Lori Lyn Skipper

Welcome back to the adventures of Lori Lyn Skipper. My son, Brad, and I made it just fine after his dad left us because we had God on our side. Yes, there were definite struggles, but I had such a peace about me, Philippians 4:7 NLT: Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Lord called me to the ministry in 1998. I preached my first sermon in March 1999.  I eventually moved to Benton, IL by the leading of the Lord where I continued serving in the ministry. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, lupus, arthritis, and chronic degenerative disc disease.  In 2005, I almost died from these and other afflictions, such as Barrett’s esophagus and bleeding internally, but God! 

I know that by Jesus’ stripes I am healed because the Word of God tells me so in Isaiah 53:5. I have since been healed of many afflictions and diseases. There are some that I am still working on catching my healing, but it is well with my soul. I believe these are in direct relationship to the life I lived before Christ. Yes, I believe He will completely restore me, but I also believe I am suffering the consequences of my actions and need to walk some things out. I actually appreciate the miracles I’ve experienced more because of what I have to walk out.

 

Brian Lori Adult
Brian & Lori Reacquaint 2009

Not only did the Lord restore my soul but He restored my relationship with Brian in March 2009. I had sent letters numerous times to Brian via his grandmother’s address and never heard from him. In mid-2008, I located him via Myspace, prayed and sent him a message. About three weeks later, I received a response from him, he said he reread all of the letters I had sent him, but he was not ready for a relationship with me. 

Finally, in Feb of 2009 he said he was ready to meet for the first time since 1993. My family had a surprise birthday party for my mom on March 8, 2009. Brian came to become reacquainted with me and the rest of my family. Since that time, Brian and I have worked on developing a relationship. He now lives in Portland, OR but we stay in touch. The best part of all of this, he came to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior living in Missouri. He is currently not on fire for the Lord, but I believe he will be again one day, as well as my youngest son Brad will be also. In Jesus name!

                                  

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-06-17/c7a2b45b-2c1b-48b0-9f40-4a58cb1a6a5c.png
Brad & Lori - During Brad's service in the Marines

Fast forward to December 2015, I was not looking for a husband, but I met mine. John was not looking for a wife, but he found one. From the day we met, the Lord spoke to me that my husband was going to be an integral part in me fulfilling the dreams and calling the Lord has put on my life. My husband is a pre-believer, but I thank God every day for him. He is very supportive of me. He also encourages me in the new adventures I am on with the Lord. We have our struggles due to his life style, but I have learned when to speak up and when to let it go. I have learned to lay down boundaries and will not accept any disrespect towards me. When it has happened, I have been quick to nip it in the bud. I daily thank my husband for his support, encouragement, for his hard work to provide for our family, for his love for me and my sons, for doing dishes, taking out the garbage, whatever it may be. I thank him and let him know how much I appreciate him. It’s vital to our marriages to show love, honor, and respect.

Life is too short to live any way but happy. I have come to the place where I know who I am in Christ Jesus and I won’t accept anything less than His best for my life. I know in Whom I serve, and I don’t forget for one day Who He is or what He has done for me. 

I close with Lamentations 3:58 NKJV: “O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life.” Amen!

 

Lynn Donovan: Thank you Lori for your heart of love for our community and for your courage to share your story. Your life brings great honor to our Father. Well done good and faithful servant.  SUMites, give a shout out to Lori in the comments for sharing her heart with us. Hugs. Lynn


Spiritual Leadership When Unequally Yoked       

BibleNation of SUM Warriors,

To follow up on my post from Monday, there some discussion about the perspective I shared. It’s interesting to me that a few readers were uncomfortable with my perspective on the old English, King James Version of 1 Peter 3.

I get it!

Of course, I’m not a theologian. I’m only an ordinary wife and believer who is on this faith journey along with the rest of you. And I only pointed out my perspective because sometimes the Lord is the one who is longing to bring greater understanding to scripture. I will add one more comment about the King James rendering. For centuries the church in general accepted this particular rendering which included the word conversation. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that new translations came into the public readership and were widely received, that the rendering of conversation changed to behavior. King James was written in 1,611. NIV, 1973. So, how did believers from 1,611 to early 1,900’s deal with 1 Peter 3? Were they silent or did they present themselves as the living Word to their unbelieving husbands and talk with them about faith? Or in fact, did they do both? One day in heaven I plan to ask them. *grin*

However, I won’t ignore the fact that we can easily present the translation of the word “conversation” from the Greek which the King James was derived. The Word in the Greek is: anastrophé:

This is closely translated to: Behavior, manner of life.

And as I looked at other passages in the Word, time and again, the word behavior was translated, conversation, manner of life, conduct. But they were intertwined. Here is an example from Ephesians:

Ephesians 4:22 N-AFS
GRK: τὴν προτέραν ἀναστροφὴν τὸν παλαιὸν
NAS: to your former manner of life, you lay aside
KJV: the former conversation the old
INT: the former conduct the old

When you consider the Greek meaning, it comes together for me as how our entire life is presented to others. It’s our behavior, our conduct, our conversation…. Our manner of life. It’s our whole-self. Our true identity.

What I love is that the Word remains the same within these translations. We must present ourselves as a wife, a woman worthy of the High calling of God. Let our spouse behold this kind of life, conduct, perhaps even humble conversations. This is the Gospel lived out in the home of the unequally yoked.

In all my years of living in an unequally yoked marriage this is what I know. We are the Word of God being lived out in front of our pre-believer. It’s our year-upon-year, leaning into the truth, living with growing faith. It's not perfection. NO, it's living authentically. Our spouse discovers we are serious about our faith and they, even grudgingly, watch as our life, values, conduct changes before their eyes. Sometimes they quietly admire our adjustments. Sometimes they don’t like our lifestyle changes because they are fighting with lying voice that share their mind and are offended in their deception.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A man can ignore a nagging wife, but he can't ignore the truth of a transformed life!

As a woman with more than 26 years of marriage, I will state clearly and with confidence for your life and marriage. It’ does become easier. Even as I’m typing this I hear my husband in his office, praise music is playing in the kitchen. Gang, earlier in our marriage, praise music playing anywhere was the beginning of a fight.

Last week I was facing some difficult issues and in passing I asked my husband to pray for me as I headed out to a meeting that had me uncomfortable. Upon arriving home, he said to me, “I prayed for you.”

Yes, indeed! That happened!

And it was real. He truly prayed. I hope it was to Jesus. I’m not sure but I was deeply touched that he prayed for lil’ ole me. And the meeting went fantastic.

SUMites, get a grip on Hope. Take hold of with all your might Perseverance and grab Faith and never let go. I will be the voice to assure you, it’s all worth it. There is hope and while we wait, we are invited into the most astonishing adventures with our Papa God, Jesus and the entire realm of His Kingdom! Hallelujah!

If you agree, say it in the comments. I stand on faith. I grab Hope. I invite in perseverance and I accept the invitation to every adventure the Lord offers. In Jesus name. AMEN Signed:______