Family in Prayer

What is S.U.P.V.?

For those new to our church, website and this blog, here's what it's all about: SUPV stands for the Straight Up Prayer Vigil. It is a virtual prayer vigil that happens every Wednesday (God willing). The Straight Up refers to the times of 6:00 a.m., noon, 6:00 p.m., and midnight--you choose whatever time works for you--and you pray for our church, those on prayer list, and prayer requests that are included in the blog post or are sent by email, normally at the beginning of the week for that Wednesday.

Wonder Woman

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…… Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.

              

Romans 5: vv 8, 14-15

 

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 

  

                                    John 15: 11-13

 

I finally got the chance to see Wonder Woman this past weekend. I’d been wanting to see it but just hadn’t had the chance, so when I had the opportunity to take care of my nephews over the weekend and they were cool with seeing the movie (though they’d seen it twice already!), I was excited (even with the 9 year-old whispering, “Aunt Laura, watch—this is the part where she really becomes Wonder Woman!”).

 

Oh what an incredible movie it was! I thoroughly enjoyed it—the storyline, the humor, the action, Chris Pine’s handsome face and bright blue eyes, I mean, what was I saying?—oh, yes, I enjoyed every aspect of the movie. As the story unfolded though, I realized that movie’s message is similar to Christ’s. Lest you think I’m crazy, here’s a quote from Diana talking to Steve Trevor:

 

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever.


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The Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell
[a] in the house of the Lord
Forever.

 

Psalm 23

 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

 

John 10: vv 11, 14

 

I was listening to KDRY 1100 AM tonight on the way home from work, and heard a story referenced in a sermon. Some of you may have heard it anecdotally, so I’ll ask your forgiveness for the redundancy, but it struck me as interesting and quite relevant.

 

“Often after dinner at these parties people give recitations, sing,
and use whatever talent they have to entertain the company.
One year a famous actor was among the guests. When it came his turn to perform, he recited the Twenty-third Psalm, perhaps the most beloved psalm in the Psalter. His rendition was magnificent, and there was much applause.

At the end of the evening, someone noticed a little old great aunt dozing in the corner. She was deaf as a post and had missed most of what was going on,
but she was urged to get up and recite something. In those days people used to memorize a lot of poetry! So she stood up, and in her quivery old voice she started, “The Lord is my shepherd,…” and went on to the end of the psalm.
When she had finished there were tears in many eyes.

Later one of the guests approached the famous actor. “You recited that psalm absolutely superbly. It was incomparable. So why were we so moved by that funny, little old lady?”

He replied, “I know the psalm. She knows the shepherd.”

 

We’ve all heard that Psalm; I’m sure that many of us know it by heart. But how many of us truly know the One about Whom the Psalm was written?


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Family Drama

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 

                                                1 Corinthians 1:10

 

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

                                                Colossians 3: 12-15

 
I was gone over the weekend, working on a 72-hour spiritual retreat called the Walk to Emmaus (if you’re interested in attending one, please let me know!). I’ve worked on many a Walk as a team member, and each one has been special in its own way. This Walk went relatively smoothly, like most of them do, save for an interaction that happened late on a Sunday afternoon. Now, allow me to paint the backdrop: it was July in south Texas, 100+ degrees, what seemed like 152% humidity, and what seemed like 50 big plastic bins and sundry items that needed to be carried out of a big building and loaded into a utility trailer that was parked 300 feet away and could not be moved closer like we used to be able to park it. There are over 20 ladies, ranging in age from late 20s to early 70s, all operating on operating on about five hours’ sleep for each of the past three nights. Did I mention that it was over 100 degrees?

 

Another group had come in to help our team tear down and help pack, which was very nice. What wasn’t as nice, though, was the assessment and attitude of this outside group to a couple of team members who weren’t as ready as the outside group felt they should have been, even though by all estimates and schedules, they were exactly as ready as they were. Words were exchanged, feelings were hurt, and tempers flared to match the heat of the Texas sun.


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The Future

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

 

There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21

 

 

I search Pinterest for the quotes that I include with these devotionals, as well as for messages to put on the church marquee. I came across this saying, and found inspiration for this week’s devotional: “I don’t know what the future may hold, but I know Who holds the future.”

 

I seem to have a lot of things going on in my life right now. Some of them are new and different experiences and activities that bring with them their own set of potential worries:

  • New role at work with more responsibility: Will I be able to determine the right things on which to focus my efforts? How can I train myself to think strategically? I need to define a dashboard with measurements of success within a week—wha??
  • Leadership position within a charity that is undergoing some change and challenges in its activities: What if we don’t get enough volunteers? What if stronger personalities on the Board of Directors commandeer the discussions and me, being the people pleaser I am, can’t get everyone’s voices heard?

And yet there are some that are the same areas year after year (but the questions/worries change over time):

  • My family: ‘Nuff said.
  • My extended family: One of my fathers-in-law turns 80 soon and his health isn’t what it used to be—what does that mean for the children? Why was my mother-in-law having the kids choose items to take home with them when we last visited? How will my nephew who is a challenging child handle going to middle school? Will my stepmother’s health ever get better?
  • My friends: One friend’s husband was just diagnosed with prostate cancer, another just lost her father, yet another’s father just went into hospice, one is in a somewhat loveless marriage and doesn’t know what to do
  • My cats: Why did Hobbes suddenly decide to start pooping on my floor ever so often? He’s not sick, he’s not in distress, what’s going on?
  • My church—How will He transform us? What if folks aren’t on the same song sheet within the church for this transformation—what if they don’t support it? When will He transform us? How’s Kevin’s health? What about the Vision Team—how are they holding up? Are folks getting spiritually fed and motivated? Do they feel His presence? Do they know Him?


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Plain and Simple

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 

                                               

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

 
I realize that this is a day late (but not a dollar short!), and for that, I ask your forgiveness. I know I didn’t write a devotional last week (was out of town), nor do I think I’ll get the chance to write one next week (out of town again), but I was determined I was going to do one this week. Sunday night rolled around and I didn’t have an idea of what to write about, so I didn’t start one then. Monday night rolled around and I was tuckered out after Zumba, and I still didn’t have an idea of what to write about, so I didn’t Monday night. Tuesday night I got home at around 7:30 from work, and chopped up a big honkin’ watermelon and prepped lunches for the rest of the week, and still was uncertain what to write.

 

And here we are at Wednesday. I now know what to write, having discerned it this morning, but it’s going to take a bit of research to make sure the message is right. It is now 8:05 and I’m pretty tired and really want to get something out tonight, so that devotional will have to wait a bit.

 

I thought about the sitcoms of the eighties and early nineties when they did that one compilation episode a couple of seasons—you know, where they assemble a series of scenes from the past episodes, where characters flashback to these scenes. Maybe I could go through prior devotionals and find a common theme and effect that concept. Or, if I really wanted to, I could go into “rerun” mode and publish a devotional from the past, and hope that no one would remember.

 

No bueno. You and He deserve so much more.
 
 
For this week, I’m going to copy the concept I saw on Pinterest when researching sayings or quotes to go on the church marquee (if you didn’t know, I change the church marquee messages): “It’s too hot to change the sign. Sin=bad. Jesus=good. Message inside.”
 
 
Friends, we are all sinners. Yes, you, and you, and me, and you. Yes, we are. Each of us can relate to what Paul shares in Romans 7: 23-24a: “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!” As long as we are in this world, we will sin. And we are told in Romans 6 that the wages of sin is death. And you can hear the desperation to Paul’s cry as he finishes Romans 7:24: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
 
 

The answer: Jesus. We rejoice when we read Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus delivered Paul from his body of death, and He can deliver you, too.

 

Jesus loves you more than you can ever imagine. When He hung on that cross, you were on His mind. He laid down His very own life so that you could live with Him in eternity. You are His and He is with you always. He is your strength, your hope, your sustenance. He is everything.

 

Prayer Requests

  • For those who are struggling emotionally, financially, physically, spiritually…
  • For the victims of violence and war
  • For our church to be obedient to His calling
  • For us to be united in fellowship, prayer, and love

 

Jesus is good, and He makes us good. Let us be forever thankful for that.

 

Quotes

 

“Don’t put people down unless it’s onto your prayer list.”

 

“Don’t wait until you see the sunshine to thank God. Dare to thank Him while it’s still dark—that’s what faith is all about.”



Mercy in action

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

 

Matthew 7:37-40

 

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

James 2:14-16

 

I am lost in a myriad of people on my college campus—find me.

 

I am ashamed, struggling to overcome the raw ache of addiction—rescue me.

 

I am mortified that I have allowed myself to rely on another person..and another, and still another, to give me my self worth, only to be used and left crumpled on a doormat, wiped off the boots and shoes of others, like caked mud left to dry and harden—see me.

 

I am unaware that the literal garbage heap in which I live and find sustenance is something that I don’t deserve, for I ever never known another abode—move me.

 

I am humiliated, knowing that I am unable to provide for my family after the loss of my job but I have yet to tell them—mentor me.

 

I am old and neglected, nearing the end of my life in this bed inside this urine-scented nursing home. The bed sheets haven’t been changed in weeks, and my clothing is stained by my inability to control myself—acknowledge me.

 

I am frightened at the thought of life inside of me—unexpected life that resulted from an attack so brutal that I have to sleep with the light on, hand clutched to a knife—help me.

 

I am not hungry, yet I eat bowl after bowl of ice cream, cookies, anything I can to fill the void left by my spouse’s sudden departure—release me.

 

I am terrified of my children forgetting who I am and who I will become while I am in prison—come to me.

 

I am haunted by the thought that people will see through this “act” and find out that I truly don’t know what I am doing and that I will be “found out”—validate me.

 

I am hungry for affection, for a mother to sing me lullabies instead of insults, for a father’s hands to hold mine instead of hitting—feed me.

 

I am burdened by the pain of past horrors and poor choices. I am worthless—redeem me.

 

Prayer Requests

  • For those who can say any one of the things from above
  • Praise for the rain!
  • For unrest and strife in the world
  • For us to know His will for His church

 

We cannot stay still. We are compelled to show the love of Jesus to those in need. We must be merciful to the needy.

 

Quotes

 

“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”

 

“Never be a prisoner of your past. It was a lesson, not a life sentence.”



Interior and exterior

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

                                                           

Matthew 11:28-30

 

I had worked with a lady by the name of “Sharon” a while back when I went from the operations area into the project world. I was overwhelmed and drinking from the fire hose; she was patient, soft spoken, and charming. She took the time to show me what she had been working on and helped me understand how it would integrate with what I was starting to work on.

 

I eventually became more comfortable in my role and went on to another organization; Sharon changed roles and our paths rarely crossed. I kind of lost track of her, except for very occasional updates from a mutual friend and co-worker. She seemed to be doing fine.

 

A couple of days ago one of my best friends with whom I work asked me if I had ever worked with Sharon. Her face was pained as she asked, and I told that her that I had, and anxiously asked her what was wrong and why she asked. She said that Sharon had committed suicide only days before, and showed me the GoFundMe campaign that Sharon’s daughter had set up. I was shocked by what I read. You see, Sharon had battled alcoholism for what seemed to be most of her adult life. A quote from her daughter’s GoFundMe write-up embodies the pain: “However, despite her often zealous and confident exterior, Mom harbored a sinister side that severely affected her and her family on a daily basis…The truth is beneath her charming wit and good humor laid a deeply troubled soul.” The write-up alludes to her suicide, its emphasis being more on telling the reality of her life so that others who may be struggling with the same thing can perhaps identify with what Sharon went through and take an opposite turn.

 


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Muck and gunk

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned

                                                        Romans 5:12

 

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
Philippians 4: 12

 

I was so excited when I came home from a business trip to San Francisco back in January to find that the city had given us a green bin for compost material that they would pick up every Friday with the recycling. You know how I am about recycling—I was downright giddy at the thought of organics recycling! They will allow you to put in lawn clippings, food scraps, food-soiled paper, teabags, coffee grounds, and the like. So I dutifully filled it with all of the stuff I was never able to before and rolled it to the curb every Thursday night. I virtually clicked my heels and squealed at the thought of banana peels and avocado pits no longer filling a landfill.

 

As the weeks progressed, however, I started seeing more flies hanging around my beloved compost bin, and it smelled horribly every time I’d lift its lid to deposit yet another food scrap or filled coffee filter. With each day closer to Friday, more maggots would appear on the walls, and more flies would vie for the opportunity to come into the house (I started finding myself yelling at family members to “shut the darn door or flies will come in”, while on the flip side finding glee when I was able to kill a fly with the whip of a kitchen towel. I know, it’s weird). Even after the bin was emptied, flies still remained.

 

I finally got up the gumption to clean the darn bin when the flies got to me. I used the garden hose to rinse out the dishwashing soap I’d poured in. The force of the water dislodged some, but not all, of the gunk that had accumulated at the bottom. The cart is almost 4 feet tall, and there was no way in God’s green earth I was going to crawl in it to clean it—simply wasn’t going to happen. The gunk that did come out and onto the lawn was smelly and gross, and attracted flies as it sat there in the hot sun. Blech. I finally got a long dowel rod, wrapped a rag around it, reached in with the cart on its side, and vigorously scrubbed the bottom and walls, extracting more grime and smelly gunk. After a few more rinses, I felt that it was as clean as it was going to be. I vowed to clean it more often so that gunk extraction was not a habitual thing for me. How dorky is it that I walk by my dear green bin and smile at the fact that it’s not buzzing with flies due to its fetid and decaying contents?

 


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Best and Worst Descriptors

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 

Philippians 4: 12

 

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

                                                            1 Samuel 16:7

  A couple of months ago two of my colleagues and I interviewed four people for some positions in my department. We added our own interview questions to the standard “Tell me about a time where you…” Our favorite question was “If I were to talk to your current team or manager, what would they say about you?” It was intended to allow the interviewee the opportunity to share their qualities with us, but I noticed that it at least caused each interviewee to pause a bit before answering (after all, we can reach out and actually ask their current manager or team). I’m hopeful that the question allowed for some introspection and some honest answers.

My boss shared with a couple of us this afternoon that her high school daughter had applied at a Starbucks in Seguin, and that one of the questions the manager asked her was to describe herself on her best day using only one word. Her daughter thought about and replied, “Fearless.” When asked for a one-word description of herself on her worst day, she replied, “Pessimistic.” Pretty self-aware, I’d say, for a 17 year old.

I then joked with my boss and a co-worker, saying that on my worst day, my one-word answer would be “ChickenLittle” (see what I did there?), because when I am overwhelmed with things that I can’t control, I react in fear and great stress. Neither my boss nor my co-worker disagreed with my assessment, so I know that there are tons of growth opportunity there!


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Born of the Spirit

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

                                                            John 3:5-8

 

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed so you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

                                                            Matthew 25:24-30

 

I’ve written devotionals in the past about the role the Holy Spirit plays in salvation—in convicting a person to repent of his sins and accept the exquisite present of salvation that Jesus Christ’s death offers us. I’ve even preached a sermon in which His transforming power has changed my life. But I’ve never gone as far as to raise the question here in written word, about how and why some people are convicted and some aren’t, as I hadn’t wrapped my mind fully around that yet. I don’t think that I accept election or predestination, but I know that there are a number who do. I did not explore how I theologically felt, as I think I was worried about what I would find? Suffice it to say, I didn’t write about it because I didn’t have any definitive answers, and I didn’t want to lead anyone astray. I will admit, though, that the question has been rolling around in my brain for a while, and that I’ve quelled the need to answer it thus far.

 

Until late last week.


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