180 posts categorized "Witnessing to an Unbeliver"

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:______


He Opened It. I Waited With a Butterfly Stomach

1 Corinthians 13The following was written by Dorothy Fleming, a long-time reader here at SUM. She shared this story with me and I knew all of us need to receive it. Thank you Dorothy for your love, example and your Christ-like heart. Hugs, Lynn

***

January 6, 2018

Making My Husband Cry on Christmas

It started with a 2017 Valentine’s Day post by Gary Thomas author of the book “Cherish –The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage”.  He kept a journal for a whole year writing each day how he cherished his wife.  He then gave the journal to her at Christmas.  Hmmm.  What a great idea!  I can do that I thought…can’t I?

However, keeping a cherish journal for a SUM spouse presents some challenges, right?  Not only would I need to find something to cherish each and every day for days, weeks, months, but accomplish it without directly quoting Bible verses or writing prayers in it.  How can I honor my husband through this adventure and grow my faith, so I can be a better reflection of Christ to him?  Lord! Please guide me!

To cherish – to go out of my way to show my husband that I believe he is a gift to me and to honor him and our marriage of almost 29 years.  I wanted the Lord to teach me to have an auto-pilot that goes to grace, mercy and forgiveness when irritations and problems crop up.  I wanted my heart to not focus on negatives but show praise and thanksgiving for all the blessings our marriage has been, is and will be. 

So, I purchased a cute colorful journal that even says, “Cherish You” and I began writing.  Each day, I would pray - what do you have for me today Lord?  Many days, it was quite easy, but some days presented a challenge…do I have to cherish today Lord? Really?  Even when he….

But cherishing and remaining in God’s word teaches us to remember what Christ has done for us, how He loves us, cherishes us, shows unfathomable grace and mercy to us.  How can we not show that to our spouses by cherishing them as well?

Take a look at Song of Songs Chapter 5 as it describes my Beloved…My lover is radiant and ruddy…his eyes are like doves…his lips are like lilies…thinking of my husband as my Adam and I am his Eve.  Corny?  Maybe?  But isn’t that how Christ sees us?  Loves us? Shouldn’t we be imitating Him?

We know that God desires all to be saved and I hold on tight to God’s promises for my husband.  Dr. Tony Evans has written about our faith – “Faith is acting like something is so even when it is not so in order that it might be so simply because God said so.”  By choosing to cherish my husband more, am I not then being a better reflection of Christ?  I know my husband watches and listens to my actions and words, as he is quick to point out when I fall short of God’s commands.  He’ll comment, “Is that what it says in that Bible of yours.”  Ouch!

So I ended up journaling for six months!  Before Christmas I prayed a lot – Lord please show me how to conclude this!  Please open his heart to receive it as the cherishing gift I intend.

When Christmas day arrived and so did the butterflies in my stomach!  The time came for him to open the journal, I was nervous; please Lord let your love enter into my husband’s heart!  He opened the gift and began to read.  I watched.  He read.  I waited.  He smiled.  About two hours later he finished with tears streaming from his face and he thanked me with a big hug and kiss!  Thank you Lord, you are an awesome God!

Since Christmas, I have noticed my husband writing in the same journal at night…hmmm maybe I will receive a cherish journal back next Christmas…

DorothyFleming 2018Cherishing your spouse is a choice and that choice can be learned and grown into an awesome habit that will enrich your marriage.  You know all too well the extra challenges a SUM relationship brings and to remain motivated and focused on cherishing we must stay in God’s word daily and understand the gospel.  We need to remember that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins that we may be restored to Him.  As Gary Thomas says towards the end of his book, the God who cherishes the imperfect you is more than capable of helping you cherish an imperfect spouse!

 

 


Mike's Best Advice To A Believing Wife

Finn Grace Hebrews 11 1Hello SUMite Nation! Lynn here.

I’m writing this post on a very warm and sunny Super Bowl Sunday. I’m apologizing to all of you who are freezing your keister off in the icebox of February. And for those of you battling this ferocious flu, I speak to that bug in your body and command it in the name of Jesus; BE GONE. STAND DOWN! BODY BE HEALED!

Anyhoo, I ask for your grace as I describe the warm weather, exceptionally warm (I’m frustrated- What happened to winter around here?) weather in Southern California. Yesterday Mike and I sat on our front porch swing together with our puppies, Grace and Finney. In these strangely warm months of winter, we often sit out there together and take in the neighborhood. Yesterday we watch an entire swarm of bees take residence in our neighbor’s trees. (She was made aware).

While rocking and also yelling at Grace to get out of the dirt, I popped a question to Mike. “Mike, what advice would you give younger women who are married to unbelieving men?”

I prefaced the question with the understanding that Mike and I have now been married 25 years. We are in the most beautiful season of our married life. It is peaceful between us. The friction and pain that once existed is over and we are truly enjoying what I feel we both fought so hard to finally obtain; peace, security, love and a friendship that is … You complete my sentences…. kind of friendship.

It’s weird to type those words but we finally have arrived and are living a beautiful married life. With this new season, my mind tends to forget what it’s like to live in the season of struggle where many of you are residing today. So, that is why I often find my heart wanting to write and share more about what is happening in my faith that continues to grow exponentially. So be patient with me if I tend to write more about faith in the future. I’ve actually learned that the more I grow in Christ the less conflict I experience with other relationships. NOW That IS a powerful truth to grasp!

So, back to the question. Mike replied with three words. I reached for my phone to record what he said, and he continued, “Patience, understanding and love.”

Ya, pretty much sounds like Jesus talking! Perhaps this guy has gleaned a few things after all.

“What does that mean?” I ventured, holding the phone closer to capture his words.

“What I mean by patience is that you can’t change someone or expect them to do something they are not ready to do, like church. You have to have patience and realize that perhaps it will change or maybe it won’t. But you need patience and don’t FORCE the change because it will only alienate your husband.”

“Mike, I think you also said something about a man’s discovery of God and how his wife could better serve in his journey.”

“Yes, a wife can support his discovery and encourage his discovery, but a wife can’t make it happen. It’s not her responsibility.”

“What does understanding look like in this kind of marriage?”

Mike, “Understanding is coming to grips with his current faith or lack of faith. Also, be intentional to understand who he is and what is important to him. Understand where he’s coming from so that you don’t fight over your differences in faith.”

“And love?”

“Love your husband. As a believing wife, you demonstrate God’s love by how you love your husband.”

This response means the world to me!

Me, “Do you really believe what you just told me or are you just saying that, so I have something to write about?” (grin)

He laughs out loud and chuckles, “No, I really believe what I told you. This is what I have learned from our struggles and all that you wrote about in Winning Him Without Words. It’s true.”

Wow, I guess I never knew he really read the book.

My dearest SUMites, let our ordinary marriages become a testimony to the power of the love of God in an ordinary woman. You WILL overcome. Your marriage can THRIVE. Your kids will walk in faith. Keep on praying. Remain steadfast in belief. Study and learn about warfare and the promises of God. Know your identity as a Child of God. Love, love, love, love, love…. Forgive, forgive, forgive, grace, grace, grace. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

Be Blessed, Lynn


Submission vs. Obedience - - Part 3 By: Martha Bush

Submission vs. Obedience - - Part 1
Submission vs. Obedience - - Part 2

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comIntroduction by Martha Bush

I want to thank Lynn for giving me the opportunity to tell my story of the most difficult season  I faced in my marriage when submission vs. obedience came into play, as I obeyed the Lord’s direction for my life, and the opposition I faced from my husband in doing so.  (Part 1, Part 2)

These posts weren’t meant to degrade my husband. Looking back, this season was more about breaking strongholds and burning out impurities in my life that had kept me from putting God first.

I want to conclude with two questions that I struggled with the most.

Question #1: Am I Hearing Your Voice, Lord?

Trusting my heart to know if it was the Lord’s voice was entirely new to me. Perhaps it was because, since childhood, I had never allowed myself to think and feel for myself, nor had I ever made my own decisions.

Scriptures assured me God’s voice was within me.

  • Jeremiah 31:31-33: I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.
  • Deuteronomy 30:11-14: The word is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

What I was hearing on my heart was being confirmed by scriptures, sermons, prophetic words, and even in dreams.

My thoughts were still on my husband. Many days, I cried out in agony: “What about my husband, Lord?”

In Luke 14:25-34, Jesus is encouraging his followers to think about what it means to follow Him. To do this, they would have to forsake everything – including family – in order to make this type of commitment to Jesus.

Question #2: How Can I Balance 1 Peter 3 to Honor and Reverence My Husband With Harsh Words?

Take a look at the synonyms for harsh:

  • Brusque, hard, unfeeling, unkind, brutal, stern, acrimonious, bad-tempered, rough, discordant, dissonant, unharmonious

My answer to my question came after I made a “public fool” of myself.

When my husband retired, our two daughters and I gave him a surprise party in the small town in Georgia where we grew up. I prepared a beautiful speech in his honor.

As I stood before the crowd to give my speech, suddenly harsh words started ringing in my ears that began the day I approached him to discuss my new direction from the Lord.

An attitude rose up inside me, and I couldn’t give the honor speech I had written. Instead, I laughed my way through a rambling, meaningless speech.

Fast forward one year – my two daughters approached me.

“You had an opportunity to honor our daddy on the most important event of his life; instead you chose to disrespect him.”

“But, you don’t understand what goes on behind closed doors,” I protested.

Their cutting words were: “Mama, you are the Christian in this marriage; you should know better.”

I almost took them out of the world I had brought them into; instead, I stomped off and pouted with them for three months.

Google to the rescue---Marriage Mission International listed a book called Winning Him Without Words, which I ordered.

Two women from California who had never laid eyes on me started meddling in my business on page 67:  Know the Essentials of Love: Hope, Joy, Peace and Trust (Oh, Yeah, and Respect)

At last, I humbled myself before the Lord and asked His forgiveness.

He then began to teach me principles that changed my life.

  • Honor: Obey the Lord; honor those in authority over us, which includes our husbands.
  • Boundaries: Submission is never meant to allow someone to overstep another’s boundaries. Marriage needs two ingredients to grow and thrive – freedom and responsibility.
  • Harsh Words: I cannot control how another person speaks or acts, but I can control how I respond to it.

Note: There is an immense difference between being persecuted for the Lord than being physically or emotionally abused by a tyrant, or subjected to other traumatizing situations.  Godly wisdom is need in these situations.

The Finality of My Story

A prophecy I received about my husband:

  • Your husband is going to hate the things he has said and done, but he is going to love the gospel and want the truth. When I finish My quick work in him, I’m going to establish him for the very last work.

My church was flooded during hurricane Harvey, resulting in small groups needing to meet elsewhere. Would you believe my SUM group meets in our home? Though he thinks it’s a regular women’s Bible study, nonetheless, he opens our home for the Lord’s work. He retreats to the bedroom to watch the car races during the meeting, and afterwards joins us ladies for a meal.

As for Smith Wigglesworth whom I mentioned in Part 1 – After his conversion, many were saved, healed, and even raised from the dead through his ministry.

I’d like to think that when our husbands and wives get to the Pearly Gates, Smith will be there to greet them.

“Welcome! I have been waiting for you. I am in heaven today because Polly made Christ her Master, and prayed for me just like your spouse did!”

And all my SUMite sisters and brothers said:

“Praise the Lord. Bring it on!”

References

  1. Honors Reward: John Bevere
  2. Boundaries in Marriage: Henry Cloud, John Townsend
  3. The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: LeslieVernick
  4. Verbally Abusive Relationship – How to Recognize it and How to Respond: Patricia Evans.
  5. Beloved Unbeliever: Jo Berry

Staunch, Skeptic, and Special!

“I’ve never met a Christian I liked!” declared Seamus* to the rest of us at his table. I frowned at him quizzically. Personally, I had no problem with Christians; my thing was sheer indifference. I just couldn’t relate to their fervor. SUM Hand of friendship

By the end of the year, however, the unexpected had happened: I had gone from indifferent to fervent. Yikes!

Indeed!  It was amazing, and with it came healing, joy, and a very real experience of God; but it left me in a strange place: I was now a lone Christian in a friendship group of atheists. Seamus was one of those friends, along with his wife.

I know 'couple friends' are something to be thankful for … but … mm … it hasn’t been roses. Let’s just say that while Seamus’s wife is extremely easy-going, Seamus himself is not a tactful man, and he is convinced Christianity is untrue. This combination of traits is not easy for me. If I was atheist, of course I would enjoy Seamus’s verbosity, but I’m not.

“Do you hear this, Ann”, he recently cackled as I fetched him a beer, “People who believe in Jesus are crazy.”

I wanted to give him a smack.  

“How on earth do I handle him?” I asked God. “He’s so ANNOYING!”

Over and over I battled feelings of offense at this guy who was supposed to be my friend. Quite honestly, I wanted to leave the friendship but (oh dear!) God seemed to want me to stay. Stay, and live these words:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you… For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not the tax collectors do the same?” (Matt 5:43-44, 46, NKJV) 

I’ve only just noticed how pragmatic those words are: ‘Bless’, ‘do good’, and ‘pray for’. You don’t need to feel love to do this, you just take baby steps. And so that’s what I did, baby step by baby step. It’s been four years now.

Today, I can happily say Seamus and I remain friends. God has put other believing people in my life, but this friendship with him is, perhaps, particularly special. It’s special because it’s a friendship surviving on love. 

Bless. Pray for. Do good to him.

More recently, that love has got me thinking about what my responsibilities are as Seamus’s friend. How do I carry the gospel? He is my friend, not my spouse, so is ‘winning without words’ still applicable? Or should I be more aggressive?

As if in answer, I stumbled across a wonderful book about how skeptics convert. You may find it as interesting as I did – especially if you live right in the heart of skeptic-land.

The book is called ‘I once was lost: What post-modern skeptics taught us about their path to Jesus’. The authors, Don Everts and Doug Schaupp, interviewed numerous adult converts and found that there is a common series of thresholds that skeptics have to cross when faced with faith. What’s more, these thresholds seem to be crossed in the same order by those who do convert.

I’m guessing there are spouses in our community who are sitting at any of these five thresholds. In fact, the authors argue that someone can sit at any given threshold for years.  Too right – I myself sat somewhere between the first and the second for the first 38 years of my life.

The thresholds are:

(1) Learn to trust a Christian

(2) Move from complacent to curious

(3) Become willing to make changes to your life

(4) Become an active seeker of God, and

(5) Step into the Kingdom.

It’s possible my friend Seamus is only just crossing threshold one – trusting a Christian. Perhaps I’m the one he’ll finally bring himself to… like?!  And then perhaps I can finally use words. For now, the Holy Spirit seems to tell me to stay wordless until He tells me otherwise.

How about you? How have you handled others (besides your spouse) who struggle with your faith?  And how do we witness to those who are staunchly opposed?  I look forward to hearing your insights!

Ann 

*Seamus is a real person, but I’ve changed his name


The Power of Encounter

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHello SUMite Family,

I’ve been so moved by your comments, your efforts and the experiences you are sharing in the comments. Every comment yesterday was read by those in the heavenly realms! Wow!

And a note: I am so bummed out I haven’t had the time to respond to the comments. Please forgive me. I have read each and every one of them. I appreciate how many of you have responded and prayed for someone else. Well done… This is what family looks like! 😊

Today, I want to share a verse that was written for us, for this very hour, for our unique marriages.

“I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Appropriate on day four of our fast.

Recall with me the story that leads up to this statement made by Jesus. (Read the story in John 4)

The Woman At The Well. She was outcast from her society, came for water at midday because she wasn’t welcome to join the “other women” of the town in the morning when it was cool, as she was unmarried, living with a man and had shacked up with a few others before this latest guy.

She messed up. She was a sinner. She wasn’t perfect, like the others.

I want you to know that I have felt the sting of rejection from the church, as an outcast. I would bet a million dollars that most of you have as well. The very place where we should be welcomed, included, loved on, we are often left out, skipped over and out right rejected because in our past…. We married an unbeliever.

BUT JESUS!

He saw her. Her failings, struggles, the “religious deceptions (Can only worship in Jerusalem), her pain. Yet within this broken woman was a heart that truly wanted to know and worship the real God.

This salvation experience is what our unbelieving family members are looking for. They need an encounter with the God of love, power, forgiveness and wisdom. All of these aspects of Christ are demonstrated in this story.

It’s supernatural. It’s full of love and lacks judgment. This one woman’s encounter brought such fulfilment to Jesus, he no longer hungered in his physical body. Wow!

HE HAD THE FOOD OF HEAVEN.

Would you like the food of heaven as well? Your fast is leading to a supernatural encounter. I believe it with all of my being. Press in today toward the goal. Ask God to meet you. Pray and then just wait and listen with your journal and pen ready. Let Him talk to you. Then pray for your spouse to have the “Well Experience.”

The historical tradition about this story is that this woman wasn’t merely instrumental to bring her  village to salvation, verse 39, but she spent the rest of her life traveling about the towns (10 towns) in the area and brought many to faith in Jesus.

Jesus said in the very next sentence in response to the disciple’s confusion:

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

Gang, your food this day is to do the will of God and finish His work! What is that work? Jesus said, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”

Let’s get on with it. So many are perishing. So many lost, broken, hurt. Let’s be healed and set free by Jesus first, then help as many as possible to find healing and freedom.

THAT is food that will fill us, change us, lift us up and heal every infirmity, bitterness and lost dream!

HALLELUJAH!

In the comments, pray a prayer for the salvation of your spouse. Let the Great Cloud of Witnesses hear your heart as we will bring our loved ones before the Throne of Grace.

I LOVE YOU. You are strong! You are faithful! You are powerful! You are a son or daughter of the Living God! LIVE IN BOLD FAITH TODAY!

Blessings, Lynn

Tomorrow we are going to encounter Communion. It’s going to blow your mind. Stop in here and read before your quiet time. Also, find some bread and juice because you are going to partake in the "experience" of communion and be changed. You will never think the same about a communion service again!

GOD IS SOOOOOOO GOOD! Hallelujah! Praise you Jesus!!!


1 Peter 3 - Same But Different

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comThank you, Martha, for your powerful post about submission vs obedience on Friday. I believe she is working on a follow up and I will post it when she sends it along.

Today, I want to continue with what the Lord was showing me a few weeks ago about 1 Peter 3. If you recall, God has me camped in the books of Peter and He suggested I read all of the chapters. Reading chapter three, I sensed the Holy Spirit focus on something we, the unequally yoked, usually miss because we are hung up on the first verse and we miss the rest. And the rest of the passage is amazing.

So, let’s look at this passage.

1 Peter 3New International Version (NIV)

3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,

2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.

4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands,

6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

As I read through this the Lord said, “Read it differently. What if the verses were in a different order?”

Then I heard the passage like this:

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, you are (Sarah’s) daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Okay, I realize this is only my conversation with the Lord, so please understand, I am not changing scripture but as I read the scripture in this order, I felt the Lord help me to change focus.

I could feel conviction of the Lord to submit to my husband to win him to faith but ALSO to do what is right and not give way to fear. The Holy Spirit flooded my heart with understanding. Submission is a behavior of obedience to God and that kind of behavior is what will win the hearts of our husbands. Also, I realized that fear does not communicate faith to unbelievers. In fact, worldly people perceive fear as a weakness.

What I believe the Lord was trying to show me is that back in the day, when the church was new, people were converting to faith in droves for the very first time. They didn’t know how to proceed when they came to faith and found themselves in a marriage with an unbeliever. Peter, sharing under the Holy Spirit unction, is urging them/us to remain married and preserve the family. Yet, live out authentic faith without fear. When we do so, our obedient behavior to the Lord is the testimony to our unbelieving spouse. This kind of faith without fear is straight from the heart of God. And when empowered by the gifts of the Spirit, results in a beautiful submission out of love, compassion, great wisdom and the power of God to our spouse, our marriage, our family and ultimately to God for His glory.

Bold faith brings thousands to Christ. That’s a fact. Faith is NOT a weakness nor for the weak minded. It’s a powerful life of miracles, provision, protections and more. When we demonstrate that we live and believe in THAT kind of Kingdom, people are moved, changed, and want to be part of it.

After this revelation I sensed how the devil turns our hearts to believe the way to receive our husband’s approval is: Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. (vs 3)

However, lasting beauty/relationships are developed through behaviors of authenticity and vulnerability, exactly like this: Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (vs 4) when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (vs 2)

By the way, this is what makes a marriage successful.

Wow and WOW! Okay, thank you for allowing me to share my prayer time with you. I think that 90 percent of all the decisions we make, are motivated out of fear or love. And this passage speaks exactly to the core of our beliefs. It’s a daily battle to choose love and to operate out of the gifts of the Spirit and overcome our fears.

Share your thoughts. Does this resonate with you and how can we encourage one another to operate out of love and not fear? Hugs, Lynn


I Can't Write Anything Like THIS Miracle

SUM Family: Today I was going to start writing about 1 Peter 3 but I’m overwhelmed by the miracle stories that were posted in the comments on Friday. I want to share one of them. I know many of you don’t have time to go back into the comments but this story is a living example of 1 Peter 3 and the love of Christ in the life of a SUMite. I can’t write anything that can compare to this.

Behold, the love and faithfulness of one woman and a good Father.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com 

Roxanne S.

Hi Sumite Family,

Remembering back to some beautiful miracles...

My step daughter was going through a dark time, and moved back in with her mom. Through her dark time for several years of her life, she stole from me, broke my things, told lies about me to my husband and in-laws. Broke my heart to say the least. This caused strife between my husband and his family to me. I was so down and feeling lost, I almost left my husband.

I had started to see God telling me, hearing God tell me everywhere and in everything in my life, from music, to Bible reading, to sermons, to friend’s wisdom, and so much more, telling me to go DEEPER with Him. Pray, fast, trust Him, AND to STAY, STAY, STAY, not leave my husband. So, I stayed.

Then I heard God tell me again in multiple ways, pray for your step-daughter. I did not want to pray for someone who caused me so much pain!! But, I did. I wanted God to bring about a miracle.

Within a year, late one night, my step- daughter's mom called us, and said my step- daughter ran away from home. So, I began to pray for my step-daughter and her safety, and to bring her home. My husband had been watching me do a lot of this, and I had no idea.

Then, that morning, she showed up at our house. All she wanted to do was talk to me, and cried about the choices she had made. God opened the door that night for her to need me, and for the next year she lived with us, and needed me. A lot of healing happened that year.

AND my husband gave his life to Christ during a Christian music festival, which by the way, he only went to, because he saw what I was doing in my prayer time, and what was happening to his daughter individually and as a mother/ daughter relationship. He apologized for not backing me up all those years too.

God is still doing major work in our family. There are so many miracles that I could tell you about. They all have been answered through being on my knees praying, fasting, speaking his word, reading his word, and a lot of "tough love" and trusting God in the end for whatever His plan would be.

I am still praying for my husband to have a personal relationship with God. God is good though, and he is always working on our behalf.


Could You Walk Around Nude?

Canaries in fig tree SUMDo you read the stories in the Bible about those who died, who gave their lives up, for the cause of Christ? What about modern martyr accounts of believers in the middle east who are being killed for their Christian faith? Do you walk in faith that you could do the same?

I often cry out in prayer, “Lord, I want more of you. Lord, make me so strong in faith that if one day I must choose to die or take the mark of the beast, that I would be willing and able to die for the cause of Christ.”

Perhaps you don’t pray like this. It’s just that for me, I sometimes wonder if I could stand on my faith and die for Jesus. After all, there are believers right now, today, who will stand for Christ and ISIS will kill them.

GULP.

Recently I was reading in the book of Isaiah. I arrived at this passage and I wept:

In the year when King Sargon of Assyria sent his commander in chief to capture the Philistine city of Ashdod, the Lord told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.” Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot. Then the Lord said, “My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. —Isaiah 20: 1-3

I wept out loud, “Lord, I couldn’t do this. If you told me to go around nude for three years, I COULDN’T DO IT. If I can’t do this, how in the world could I die for you?”

Geeze, as I type this is sound overly dramatic. Ahem, ya! I’m NOT nuts!

But when you cry out for more of God and tell Him you are a servant that follows hard after Him, you think about these things.

So, while on my walk-n-pray today, I asked God about all this. I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know if I could do i. But I pray that if the situation should ever arrive, I could walk through whatever you have asked of me.”

It was in that moment that I heard the Lord’s kind and gentle voice reply. “Lynn, you walk through your own challenges every day. You willingly submit to your marriage vows, even when it’s difficult. You remain steadfast and committed to praying for your spouse and family. This is immensely important to me.”

“Many, people crumble under way less that what all of you, the SUMites, live out. So many people, carelessly cast away their marriages. You choose to remain steadfast. Your faithfulness is way more important. I know you can’t perceive the end of the story but your prayers for that one man are impacting. Your lifetime of sacrifice fills my heart with a special love for you.”

I felt as though the Lord wants all of us to know that because we haven’t bailed out on a challenging marriage, He is proud. He is helping us. He hears our prayers and somehow in a way, this life-long sacrifice IS the giving of our life for the cause of Christ.

Well done SUMites! Well done!

And for those of you who are walking through divorce, there is absolutely NO CONDEMNATION in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) I spend time with so many of you who have fought with all you have to heal your marriage and yet it didn’t happen. Please know, your faith and your love in very challenging circumstances is a precious gift to our Lord!

Hugging all of you today! Lynn

Next post: I want to share from the archives:

GOING TO CHURCH ALONE.

Gang, can I just say – Grrrrrrrrr

This is so hard. I know that for me this was an area that was of intense and great struggle. Even today, I truly desire my husband to join me for church on Sunday. I’ve had to wrangle through all of the different aspects of church non-attendance with my husband. I’m certain many of you have as well…..


Chronicles of the Donovan Clan - God Never Relents

SUMite Nation!

Gang, can I just tell you…. I MISSED YOU. I finally am home. It’s great to travel and I have some stories to share but it’s awesome to be back at home.

I am refreshed now and feel as though God has cranked up my passion to a brand-new level for our community. Since returning, my heart is filled with the thoughts of you. I’ve been praying like a mad woman for marriages, for your hearts for you to rise up in hope and to see how Jesus is working all around you. I have prayed to defeat depression, fear and weariness. I’ve been praying for restoration, redemption and to cancel all the lies of the enemy in the homes and spouses of the SUMites… And I’ve only been home for a week!

Right now I’m in a serious season of intercession. Take comfort and hope and know that God sees you. He loves you and I’m interceding for you along with Jesus through the Spirit.

Today, I want to share a story with all of you who feel that God has disappeared or doesn’t see you. He does.

Most of you know that Mike and I traveled to Europe to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The only way I could convince Mike to travel overseas was to add a cruise to the equation. He agreed. So, we cruised on the biggest boat I’ve ever seen. Our room was on deck 15 and wow, what a view. 3,000 guest and 2,000 crew. THAT’S a crowd.

Mike is a traditional sort of guy, so nightly we would eat dinner in the formal dining room. The first night we were seated with a young couple. But they had been separated from their family and joined them for the remainder of the cruise at their table, thus we sat alone.

But…. On night three we walked in for diner and there sat two new couples. And this is where the story becomes a God thing.

You see, the women we met have been friends for more than 40 years. The two couples are great friends. And within minutes we were chatting and laughing and having a great time. And with me around, I can’t help it but conversations always move to areas of faith. I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself.

Wouldn’t you know it, out of all the thousands of people on our ship, we were now seated with a Nazarene pastor, his wife and their best friends. After a few nights of talking, Wes, the pastor looks over at Mike and asks, “Mike can I ask a personal question?”

“Yes, sure.”

“What is it that keeps you from accepting your wife’s faith?”

I sat motionless staring at Mike. He responded honestly and with great respect for me and the pastor. And his answer was not what I expected and yet it was. 

“I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I just struggle with organized religion.”

My mouth hung open as I took in this conversation. Mike went on to explain a bit more. Pretty much what you might expect. The evil that has been perpetrated by religion, etc.

I love Wes’ rely, “What your saying isn’t anything that I haven’t thought as well. But it is also true that when people organize, pool their resources, their manpower, they bring so much good to the world. Bringing the Gospel to those who would never hear it and helping people in multiple ways.”

Gang, can I just say, Wes was born to be a pastor. His love shined from his eyes. His concern for Mike was genuine and you could just see him loving Mike without judgement. Man, when I grow up I want to be like Pastor Wes.

A funny thing about these God-incidents. One evening I didn’t attend dinner because I was still full from lunch (eating is the main sport on a cruise – sheesh, I gained five pounds) an Anglican Priest was seated at our table along with the Nazarene pastor, his wife, their best friends and Mike. HILARIOUS!!  Mike is surrounded on all side, all the time, by believers.

Don’t think for a second that God isn’t working in your life and marriage. He is. He ALWAYS is at work to bring men unto His heart through His kindness.

Keep praying. Keep believing. Keep growing in your faith. Our God is all powerful, faithful and He is moving in our lives.

I love you. Have a great week. Lynn

 

25th Wedding Anniversary Cruise
Mike, Lynn (Photo bomb), Sam, (front row) Mary, Wes, Elizabeth