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. 
The length of the SUPVs has grown in nature over the past couple of years, and now it’s pretty much a full-blown devotional, with specific prayer requests included. May it bless you as you read it.   
 
 

April 22, 2015

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
                                                                                                Isaiah 40:28-31

There was a couple at a church I used to go to, a long time ago. The fact that the couple was so much in love could not escape anyone’s notice. He was a very attentive husband, handsome and funny, and she was beautiful, kind and with a gentle spirit. When she was pregnant with their first child, he doted on her, love and concern for her spilling out in the way he drew her into him as they shared a hymnbook, his hand on the small of her back. I recall sitting behind them, envious of their relationship, and feeling guilty for feeling so in church.

Over the course of several years, their family grew with the addition of another son, both boys handsome like their father. They seemed to be the perfect family, going on ski vacations, youth group outings, and being stalwarts in the church. When the husband contracted a serious illness, the church rallied around the family, taking care of their emotional and spiritual needs. It was an honor to pray for them, even after I changed churches. I knew that their faith would get them through the health challenges the husband would experience, from medical trials to sickness to the disease being treatable but not curable. She stayed strong, her gentle spirit reflecting the determination to rely on Him to see them through. I found myself in the position of envy again, wanting that quiet gentle spirit that shone so evidently in her.


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April 8, 2015

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
                                                               2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Two projects I am currently working deal with the facets of someone who has had an automobile claim where his or her car is totaled—when the amount to repair it exceeds the value to replace the vehicle. When that happens and the vehicle is financed, the insurance company needs to have customers sign a Power of Attorney (POA) for them (the insurance company) to be able to sign, on behalf of the customer, the seller’s part of the title they receive from the finance company. The customer has to sign the POA the exact way his or her name appears on the title. (thus endeth the lesson in insurance. Forgive me—I might have gone a little too in depth).


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April 1, 2015

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~~~Romans 5: 6-8~~~I sat Monday morning in the beauty of the San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio. I’d seen it only from the outside, having walked in front of it, on my way to a restaurant on a lunch break from jury duty. Being inside, though, was a breathtaking experience—beautiful stained glass windows, ornate walls and columns, gold- and wood-trimmed altar accoutrements, with acoustics that made the playing of Ave Maria resound in the heart of those in attendance. We were there for the funeral mass of my great aunt Mary Louise, my grandmother’s twin sister, who died at the blessed age of 104. As I watched people partake in Holy Communion (not being Catholic, I did not wish to offend by receiving the elements without having gone through my First Communion), I looked at the crucifix behind the altar. The nails in the hands and feet of my Lord Jesus, the crown of thorns atop the hung head of my Savior, the images of a beaten and bloodied back from the scourging, hidden from immediate view—all were signs of the most exquisite love offering humanity will ever know.

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March 25, 2015

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.  So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”          ~Matthew 21: 18-22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. ~Galatians 5:22-23a
 
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the season of Spring—where the renewal of life is evident in the greenness of the new grass, the chirping of the birds, budding of fruit trees, promising the bearing of fruit for harvesting later. It is around this time of year that the scripture reference above is set—Jesus, just the day before, had entered the city of Jerusalem, atop a donkey, to the cries of “Hosannah!” (and it should be noted that we are celebrating Palm Sunday this coming Sunday!). He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and drove out those making money in the temple. He healed the blind and the lame, all to the chagrin of the chief priests and scribes. He knew the eventuality of his death, soon, at the hands of the Jews.


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March 18, 2015

“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

We had a lively discussion at last week’s prayer meeting (unabashed advertisement alert: we meet Thursday nights at 7:00 in the front office of the CE/Fellowship Hall building. Would love to have you join us!). We talked about a number of things—stuff going on in the church and questions about scripture, and how they all really do tie together. I can’t say the exact way we got onto the topic of the parable of the talents, but I can say that it was quite illuminating—I came away with an understanding thanks to Pastor Kevin, and I want to share it with you. Perhaps you have always understood it this way, so what I’m going to share is yesterday’s news, but I’m quite jazzed about it!

My quibble with this parable has always been the third servant’s assessment of the master: he knew him to be a hard man, reaping where he had not sown–taking things that he did not work for. And the fact that the master acknowledged the servant’s assessment of him—I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how this portrayed God as the giving Father that He is.

The illumination that Kevin brought to mind is that the master’s personality is a reflection of each servant’s perception of him, and it affected the servant’s relationship and subsequent response. The first two servants confirmed the master’s trust in them, in that they doubled the amount of the talents entrusted to them. They worked hard to augment the master’s money. When the master returned, they presented their efforts to him, and received his high praise. “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of the lord.” They got to enter into the JOY of the lord! They got to hear the words we all long to hear our master say!
But the third servant projects his evaluation of the master’s personality and reacts accordingly. Fearful, he does nothing with the responsibility he had been given but bury it in the ground. He was entrusted with something of amazing value by his lord and because of crippling fear, did absolutely nothing with it.
But what of the master’s response to his statement? It is better understood when you look at the response recorded in Luke’s version of this parable (Luke 19): ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow…’  The talent with which he had been entrusted is taken away and given to the first servant, and the third servant cast away.
Jesus gives us the take away from this parable: “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.”  Friends, Almighty God has given us much—resources, talents, love, but above all, He has given us His Son—the Word made flesh. When we share Lord Jesus with others, as the first two servants did, we are blessed, and we further the kingdom as we have been commanded to do. When we react in a spirit of fear, (which is not from Him, by the way) and we hide the gospel, the promise of salvation is taken away, and we are cast out into the darkness.
Let us, in all things, respond to the Lord in faith, in positivity, in joy. In our individual lives as well as our corporate church life, let us acknowledge that everything we have comes from Him, and is not ours to keep. He is not glorified if we reserve our time, talents, and tithes instead of sharing them in this world through our ministries, our benevolences, our outreach. Let us seek His discernment for how to spend His resources and invest them in the community for His kingdom.
And now on to prayer requests:

•      For all those in anguish, wherever they may be, struggling to understand tragedy in their life and God’s role in that.
•      For the arrival of Spring and the renewal it brings for all things.
•      Praise and adoration for His boundless grace, His endless love and His matchless strength, all of which He shares and and blesses us with, continually. Continued prayers for revival in this place – His revival and conviction of all we do.
•      Continued prayers for revival in this place – His revival and conviction of all we do.
•      For those on our prayer list, and those who are not, who are suffering and afraid
•      For a renewal of His presence in our midst that all who come to SOCPC will feel and come to know Him

Dear ones, He loves us so much, and expects us to share that love with others. Blessings are multiplied when we give of the resources He has given us. We are His church, here for the purposes of spreading the gospel and ministering to others. Let’s agree to commit to doing His work, knowing that He will not let us falter. Amen?

From Pinterest: “Take a second to think about how blessed you are.”

And “Four things you can’t recover:
The stone…after the throw
The word…after it’s said
The occasion…after it’s missed
The time…after it’s gone”

Blessed beyond words,
Laura <><



March 10, 2015

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”        Hebrews 11:1 & 6
 
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven”   Ecclesiastes 3:1
As Rebecca mentioned in her Young Disciples’ Time message Sunday in playing The Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn”: there is a season for everything. People, relationships, even churches—we all go through seasons, some good and some not so good. When we go through the latter, life can feel like a perpetual winter—lifeless, bleak, alone. We can feel as if we have faced blizzard after ice storm after nor’easter, with no end in sight. And even if the challenges we face aren’t as bad as the frigid-like comparisons I just described, going through a proverbial Texas winter life experience can be like walking through a long, low valley with high winds and uneven ground.

Friends, our church and church family faced some winter-like conditions over the past several months. We have mourned the passing of dear church members (while celebrating their life and return Home), we have experienced the sting of church members and friends of the church leaving us, and we’ve faced trying budgetary considerations. We have struggled with empty pews, burned-out church members, hurt feelings, and have combated health issues within the church family. But just as trees that in the winter seem dead and lifeless but soon put out buds and tiny leaves that will soon unfurl, we too have that same hope. Through it all—THROUGH IT ALL—God is with us.

He is seen in the beauty of blooming flowers, and He is in the arrival of wonderful guests and friends whom we have met over the past couple of weeks!

He is in the soon-to-come spring showers, and He is in the Breakfast Taco Sundays.

He is in the greenness of the soft grass and wild flowers that dot the highway, and He is in the bringing of Pastor Byrd’s church to our door.

You will experience Him in the baby animals to be born in spring, and enjoy His presence as we proudly watch a number of our youth graduate high school.

He is in the despair of Good Friday and in the faith and promise of the empty tomb.

Friends, I firmly believe that we are at a tremendously exciting time right now in our church’s life. We have prayed for the renewal of hope, and He has provided. We have sought Him with faithful hearts, and He has rewarded us. To God be the Glory!!

Now on to prayer requests:
•      For those on our prayer list, and those who are not, who are suffering and afraid
•      For government leaders, from local to world governments, for discernment and wisdom
•      For boldness in sharing our faith
•      For the pursuit of the fruit of the Spirit as we mature in our spiritual walk
•      For those whom “religion” would damn as sinners but for whom Christ Jesus loved so greatly that He died
•      For a renewal of His presence in our midst that all who come to SOCPC will feel and come to know Him

Dear ones, not having lived as an adult in a snowy climate, I love me some winter. Bundling up in mitten, hats, and jackets, walking in the crunch of snow, listening to the slight crackling of icy branches moving in the solitude of a wooded area, breath visible in front of me—it’s a place of sweet peace I would love to visit again as an adult, especially now, to walk with Him. However…winter as a seemingly desolate season is not one I want for us as a church family to stay in. Celebrate the newness and promise of spring. He is with us and always will be!

From Pinterest: “God is working in your life right now, in ways you cannot understand.” And “God never intended that we should merely get into His word—His intent is that the word should get into us.”  — Nancy Leigh DeMoss

To His hope and promise I cling,
Laura <><



March 4, 2015

The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.  If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.  John 9:30-34

 

The latest report of the kidnapping of Assyrian Christians by the terror group ISIS has the number between 287 and 350 people—men, women, and children from 30 villages throughout northeast Syria, though between 19-29 have since been released. One account reports the total killed by ISIS at 1,969 since its declared caliphate last June, with many more missing and unaccounted for. A large majority of those killed were civilians.  Villages have been emptied, friends and families separated from each other, chaos and evil running rampant throughout the Middle East. Lives brutally impacted by those seeking to annihilate people who follow Christ. Reports I have read said that most of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were beheaded on a Libyan beach died chanting “Lord Jesus Christ”.

Would I do the same?

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February 25, 2015

“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself…” Romans 15:1-3a
 
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

There is an acrostic piece I’ve seen that teaches the proper placement and priority of those in your life:

J – Jesus
O – Others
Y – Yourself

Remember the miniseries “The Bible” that was on a couple of years ago? I watched it faithfully, and was struck by some of the scenes that showed Jesus being followed by throngs of people, pressing against Him just to be in His presence, stories of His healings having preceded His arrival in each new town. Projecting my own introversion onto Him, I imagine myself feeling overwhelmed and frantic to escape the crowds after a while, longing for a place of solitude, just to get away from the overwhelming neediness of the people around me. (That’s why, as a young mother, I retreated to my bathroom, locking the door while my children knocked on the other side. I was concerned there for a while there that they would worry about my general health due to the length of my “stays”, but maintaining my sanity was important. Moms, you know what I’m talking about). But Jesus never seemed to stop giving of Himself, even when He was physically weary and alone, talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, or tired and frustrated at having been awakened while at sea during a storm. His selflessness put the needs of others before His own needs. His love put the needs of others—us—before His very life.


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February 18, 2015

“Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

 “…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
When you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better looking each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man.
O Lord it’s hard to be humble
But I’m doing the best that I can.”

Okay. Those who are seasoned enough to recall Mac Davis, did you sing those words in your head in his voice? Did it bring back memories—good ones, I hope?


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February 11, 2015

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
 
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:7-10

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phenomenon in which couples that have been married for a while start to look like each other. A University of Michigan psychologist conducted a study on this a while ago, looking at pictures of couples as newlyweds and then again 25 years later. The results showed that couples had grown to look more like each other over time, and that the happier the couple was, the more similar they seemed to look (now, hold on—don’t go look in the mirror and then look at your spouse and assume the worst if y’all don’t look alike!). The psychologist who conducted the study speculated that these couples looked alike because people in close contact tend to mimic each others’ facial expressions. Laugh lines, frown lines—they all form similarly together, based on shared experiences.


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April 22, 2015

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
                                                                                                Isaiah 40:28-31

There was a couple at a church I used to go to, a long time ago. The fact that the couple was so much in love could not escape anyone’s notice. He was a very attentive husband, handsome and funny, and she was beautiful, kind and with a gentle spirit. When she was pregnant with their first child, he doted on her, love and concern for her spilling out in the way he drew her into him as they shared a hymnbook, his hand on the small of her back. I recall sitting behind them, envious of their relationship, and feeling guilty for feeling so in church.

Over the course of several years, their family grew with the addition of another son, both boys handsome like their father. They seemed to be the perfect family, going on ski vacations, youth group outings, and being stalwarts in the church. When the husband contracted a serious illness, the church rallied around the family, taking care of their emotional and spiritual needs. It was an honor to pray for them, even after I changed churches. I knew that their faith would get them through the health challenges the husband would experience, from medical trials to sickness to the disease being treatable but not curable. She stayed strong, her gentle spirit reflecting the determination to rely on Him to see them through. I found myself in the position of envy again, wanting that quiet gentle spirit that shone so evidently in her.


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April 8, 2015

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
                                                               2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Two projects I am currently working deal with the facets of someone who has had an automobile claim where his or her car is totaled—when the amount to repair it exceeds the value to replace the vehicle. When that happens and the vehicle is financed, the insurance company needs to have customers sign a Power of Attorney (POA) for them (the insurance company) to be able to sign, on behalf of the customer, the seller’s part of the title they receive from the finance company. The customer has to sign the POA the exact way his or her name appears on the title. (thus endeth the lesson in insurance. Forgive me—I might have gone a little too in depth).


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April 1, 2015

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~~~Romans 5: 6-8~~~I sat Monday morning in the beauty of the San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio. I’d seen it only from the outside, having walked in front of it, on my way to a restaurant on a lunch break from jury duty. Being inside, though, was a breathtaking experience—beautiful stained glass windows, ornate walls and columns, gold- and wood-trimmed altar accoutrements, with acoustics that made the playing of Ave Maria resound in the heart of those in attendance. We were there for the funeral mass of my great aunt Mary Louise, my grandmother’s twin sister, who died at the blessed age of 104. As I watched people partake in Holy Communion (not being Catholic, I did not wish to offend by receiving the elements without having gone through my First Communion), I looked at the crucifix behind the altar. The nails in the hands and feet of my Lord Jesus, the crown of thorns atop the hung head of my Savior, the images of a beaten and bloodied back from the scourging, hidden from immediate view—all were signs of the most exquisite love offering humanity will ever know.

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March 25, 2015

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.  So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”          ~Matthew 21: 18-22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. ~Galatians 5:22-23a
 
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the season of Spring—where the renewal of life is evident in the greenness of the new grass, the chirping of the birds, budding of fruit trees, promising the bearing of fruit for harvesting later. It is around this time of year that the scripture reference above is set—Jesus, just the day before, had entered the city of Jerusalem, atop a donkey, to the cries of “Hosannah!” (and it should be noted that we are celebrating Palm Sunday this coming Sunday!). He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and drove out those making money in the temple. He healed the blind and the lame, all to the chagrin of the chief priests and scribes. He knew the eventuality of his death, soon, at the hands of the Jews.


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March 18, 2015

“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

We had a lively discussion at last week’s prayer meeting (unabashed advertisement alert: we meet Thursday nights at 7:00 in the front office of the CE/Fellowship Hall building. Would love to have you join us!). We talked about a number of things—stuff going on in the church and questions about scripture, and how they all really do tie together. I can’t say the exact way we got onto the topic of the parable of the talents, but I can say that it was quite illuminating—I came away with an understanding thanks to Pastor Kevin, and I want to share it with you. Perhaps you have always understood it this way, so what I’m going to share is yesterday’s news, but I’m quite jazzed about it!

My quibble with this parable has always been the third servant’s assessment of the master: he knew him to be a hard man, reaping where he had not sown–taking things that he did not work for. And the fact that the master acknowledged the servant’s assessment of him—I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how this portrayed God as the giving Father that He is.

The illumination that Kevin brought to mind is that the master’s personality is a reflection of each servant’s perception of him, and it affected the servant’s relationship and subsequent response. The first two servants confirmed the master’s trust in them, in that they doubled the amount of the talents entrusted to them. They worked hard to augment the master’s money. When the master returned, they presented their efforts to him, and received his high praise. “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of the lord.” They got to enter into the JOY of the lord! They got to hear the words we all long to hear our master say!
But the third servant projects his evaluation of the master’s personality and reacts accordingly. Fearful, he does nothing with the responsibility he had been given but bury it in the ground. He was entrusted with something of amazing value by his lord and because of crippling fear, did absolutely nothing with it.
But what of the master’s response to his statement? It is better understood when you look at the response recorded in Luke’s version of this parable (Luke 19): ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow…’  The talent with which he had been entrusted is taken away and given to the first servant, and the third servant cast away.
Jesus gives us the take away from this parable: “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.”  Friends, Almighty God has given us much—resources, talents, love, but above all, He has given us His Son—the Word made flesh. When we share Lord Jesus with others, as the first two servants did, we are blessed, and we further the kingdom as we have been commanded to do. When we react in a spirit of fear, (which is not from Him, by the way) and we hide the gospel, the promise of salvation is taken away, and we are cast out into the darkness.
Let us, in all things, respond to the Lord in faith, in positivity, in joy. In our individual lives as well as our corporate church life, let us acknowledge that everything we have comes from Him, and is not ours to keep. He is not glorified if we reserve our time, talents, and tithes instead of sharing them in this world through our ministries, our benevolences, our outreach. Let us seek His discernment for how to spend His resources and invest them in the community for His kingdom.
And now on to prayer requests:

•      For all those in anguish, wherever they may be, struggling to understand tragedy in their life and God’s role in that.
•      For the arrival of Spring and the renewal it brings for all things.
•      Praise and adoration for His boundless grace, His endless love and His matchless strength, all of which He shares and and blesses us with, continually. Continued prayers for revival in this place – His revival and conviction of all we do.
•      Continued prayers for revival in this place – His revival and conviction of all we do.
•      For those on our prayer list, and those who are not, who are suffering and afraid
•      For a renewal of His presence in our midst that all who come to SOCPC will feel and come to know Him

Dear ones, He loves us so much, and expects us to share that love with others. Blessings are multiplied when we give of the resources He has given us. We are His church, here for the purposes of spreading the gospel and ministering to others. Let’s agree to commit to doing His work, knowing that He will not let us falter. Amen?

From Pinterest: “Take a second to think about how blessed you are.”

And “Four things you can’t recover:
The stone…after the throw
The word…after it’s said
The occasion…after it’s missed
The time…after it’s gone”

Blessed beyond words,
Laura <><



March 10, 2015

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”        Hebrews 11:1 & 6
 
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven”   Ecclesiastes 3:1
As Rebecca mentioned in her Young Disciples’ Time message Sunday in playing The Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn”: there is a season for everything. People, relationships, even churches—we all go through seasons, some good and some not so good. When we go through the latter, life can feel like a perpetual winter—lifeless, bleak, alone. We can feel as if we have faced blizzard after ice storm after nor’easter, with no end in sight. And even if the challenges we face aren’t as bad as the frigid-like comparisons I just described, going through a proverbial Texas winter life experience can be like walking through a long, low valley with high winds and uneven ground.

Friends, our church and church family faced some winter-like conditions over the past several months. We have mourned the passing of dear church members (while celebrating their life and return Home), we have experienced the sting of church members and friends of the church leaving us, and we’ve faced trying budgetary considerations. We have struggled with empty pews, burned-out church members, hurt feelings, and have combated health issues within the church family. But just as trees that in the winter seem dead and lifeless but soon put out buds and tiny leaves that will soon unfurl, we too have that same hope. Through it all—THROUGH IT ALL—God is with us.

He is seen in the beauty of blooming flowers, and He is in the arrival of wonderful guests and friends whom we have met over the past couple of weeks!

He is in the soon-to-come spring showers, and He is in the Breakfast Taco Sundays.

He is in the greenness of the soft grass and wild flowers that dot the highway, and He is in the bringing of Pastor Byrd’s church to our door.

You will experience Him in the baby animals to be born in spring, and enjoy His presence as we proudly watch a number of our youth graduate high school.

He is in the despair of Good Friday and in the faith and promise of the empty tomb.

Friends, I firmly believe that we are at a tremendously exciting time right now in our church’s life. We have prayed for the renewal of hope, and He has provided. We have sought Him with faithful hearts, and He has rewarded us. To God be the Glory!!

Now on to prayer requests:
•      For those on our prayer list, and those who are not, who are suffering and afraid
•      For government leaders, from local to world governments, for discernment and wisdom
•      For boldness in sharing our faith
•      For the pursuit of the fruit of the Spirit as we mature in our spiritual walk
•      For those whom “religion” would damn as sinners but for whom Christ Jesus loved so greatly that He died
•      For a renewal of His presence in our midst that all who come to SOCPC will feel and come to know Him

Dear ones, not having lived as an adult in a snowy climate, I love me some winter. Bundling up in mitten, hats, and jackets, walking in the crunch of snow, listening to the slight crackling of icy branches moving in the solitude of a wooded area, breath visible in front of me—it’s a place of sweet peace I would love to visit again as an adult, especially now, to walk with Him. However…winter as a seemingly desolate season is not one I want for us as a church family to stay in. Celebrate the newness and promise of spring. He is with us and always will be!

From Pinterest: “God is working in your life right now, in ways you cannot understand.” And “God never intended that we should merely get into His word—His intent is that the word should get into us.”  — Nancy Leigh DeMoss

To His hope and promise I cling,
Laura <><



March 4, 2015

The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.  If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.  John 9:30-34

 

The latest report of the kidnapping of Assyrian Christians by the terror group ISIS has the number between 287 and 350 people—men, women, and children from 30 villages throughout northeast Syria, though between 19-29 have since been released. One account reports the total killed by ISIS at 1,969 since its declared caliphate last June, with many more missing and unaccounted for. A large majority of those killed were civilians.  Villages have been emptied, friends and families separated from each other, chaos and evil running rampant throughout the Middle East. Lives brutally impacted by those seeking to annihilate people who follow Christ. Reports I have read said that most of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were beheaded on a Libyan beach died chanting “Lord Jesus Christ”.

Would I do the same?

Read more...

February 25, 2015

“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself…” Romans 15:1-3a
 
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

There is an acrostic piece I’ve seen that teaches the proper placement and priority of those in your life:

J – Jesus
O – Others
Y – Yourself

Remember the miniseries “The Bible” that was on a couple of years ago? I watched it faithfully, and was struck by some of the scenes that showed Jesus being followed by throngs of people, pressing against Him just to be in His presence, stories of His healings having preceded His arrival in each new town. Projecting my own introversion onto Him, I imagine myself feeling overwhelmed and frantic to escape the crowds after a while, longing for a place of solitude, just to get away from the overwhelming neediness of the people around me. (That’s why, as a young mother, I retreated to my bathroom, locking the door while my children knocked on the other side. I was concerned there for a while there that they would worry about my general health due to the length of my “stays”, but maintaining my sanity was important. Moms, you know what I’m talking about). But Jesus never seemed to stop giving of Himself, even when He was physically weary and alone, talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, or tired and frustrated at having been awakened while at sea during a storm. His selflessness put the needs of others before His own needs. His love put the needs of others—us—before His very life.


Read more...

February 18, 2015

“Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

 “…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
When you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better looking each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man.
O Lord it’s hard to be humble
But I’m doing the best that I can.”

Okay. Those who are seasoned enough to recall Mac Davis, did you sing those words in your head in his voice? Did it bring back memories—good ones, I hope?


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February 11, 2015

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
 
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:7-10

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phenomenon in which couples that have been married for a while start to look like each other. A University of Michigan psychologist conducted a study on this a while ago, looking at pictures of couples as newlyweds and then again 25 years later. The results showed that couples had grown to look more like each other over time, and that the happier the couple was, the more similar they seemed to look (now, hold on—don’t go look in the mirror and then look at your spouse and assume the worst if y’all don’t look alike!). The psychologist who conducted the study speculated that these couples looked alike because people in close contact tend to mimic each others’ facial expressions. Laugh lines, frown lines—they all form similarly together, based on shared experiences.


Read more...

 
 

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. 
The length of the SUPVs has grown in nature over the past couple of years, and now it’s pretty much a full-blown devotional, with specific prayer requests included. May it bless you as you read it.