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.

Transmogrification

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

                                                               2 Timothy 3:16

 

…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

                                                               2 Peter 1:20-21

 

Do you recall those Magic Eye 3D optical illusions that were the rage back in the 1990s? They were repetitive images across the page that formed some semblance of a design at first glance, but at closer look, some how formed a 3D image. I tell you what—I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to see the images like everyone else could. I would hold the page at arm’s length, and bring it to myself at varying speeds, all in in effort to trick my mind into seeing. People would tell me the steps they took (crossing their eyes while looking at it or pulling the page to the bridge of their nose, thereby tricking their brain were among the successful methods), all to no avail. I quickly dismissed them as novelty, slightly perturbed at my inability to figure them out.

 

Until I did. I was at work, looking at a display at our company’s small store when on a whim I decided to try once more to view those images theoretically behind the design. I peered closely at the design and crossed my eyes slightly and lo and behold! I saw it—in 3D! I don’t recall was “it” was, but it was there. I tested it on the next design, and the next one, and the one after that, each time able to see the image buried within the lines and colors. By Jove, I was no longer an outsider, unable to see what everyone else could.    

 

Fast forward about 25 years (and stay with me, please. It’ll make sense eventually)

 


Read more...

Mealtime Prayers

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…,

                                                               Luke 22: 19

 

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.

                                                                                    Matthew 14: 18b

 

I was thinking the other day about the act of saying grace or a blessing before a meal. I’d grown up saying grace before dinner (“God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our food.”) We’ve asked Kevin to say a blessing before we start the line when we have our potlucks.  What got me to thinking, though, was why we felt the need to have God bless our food, and whether or not doing so was scripturally based. So I Googled.

I found just a small number of websites whose premise for requesting a blessing was for the legitimate purpose of purifying the food that was about to be eaten, or to enable the food to nourish and energize the body, and these sites were both Catholic and Protestant. The overwhelming majority of sites, however, said that it wasn’t necessary to request a blessing over the food. They cited verses like those above, instances in which at a mealtime, Jesus gave thanks for the food and broke it.

 Jesus gave thanks for the food.

 


Read more...

Family

Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

                                                               2 Corinthians 13:11

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ…Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
                                                               1 Corinthians 12: vv 12 & 28         

 

Note: I’d like to start this devotional off by expressing my most sincere condolences to Suzanne Milner, at the passing of her dear husband Larry, a sweet gentlemen whom I am sorry I did not get to know better, and whose obituary prompted this devotional. I ask your forgiveness in advance, Suzanne, if this devotional upsets you in any way—that is not my intent at all. Rather, I hope that you receive it in the way I intend: a prompting or call to those on this side of Heaven, as well as a mini-celebration of who Larry was. – Laura

 

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Larry Milner, especially this close to the holidays—dismayed for Suzanne and their family at the loss of their beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend. I have prayed for God’s strength and comfort for them during this time, and will continue to do so as we get closer to Christmas, and then throughout the year, and I’m sure you, dear readers, have done and will do the same.

I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know Larry very well. The man I saw most Sundays had a quiet smile and eyes that said “hello” as Suzanne wheeled him into the narthex. It was evident to me that he was well loved and cared for, especially after watching (and offering to help!) Suzanne help him out of their car and into his wheelchair. I did not, however, go out of my way to find out more about him, his interests, his theology. The introvert in me battles for control, and wins almost every time, leaving me unable (and unwilling at times, I regret to say) to step outside of myself.

Read more...

Heaping Coals

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.

                                                            Matthew 5:44

 

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;[ not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 

                                               

1 Peter 3:8-9

 

I totally had the idea for what this week’s devotional would be by the beginning of last week, even while I was still writing last week’s on King Nebuchadnezzar and his hubris. I’d heard a snippet of the idea on a radio program, and wanted to delve further into the concept. Sometimes I’ll roll the idea around in my head, ruminating on ways to personalize the introduction of the message. I was excited to work on it and was all ready to jump in, until the election happened.

No, don’t worry—I’m not going to get political here. That’s not what this is about, nor what this medium is for. Stay with me now…you’ll see.

I was like so many of my Facebook friends, awaiting the election results and pining for the days that we could go back to seeing yummy recipes, cute toddler pictures, and silly cat videos in our Facebook feed. O, how we longed for these things, as the passion and barbs flew in the comments to the stories that were vigorously and insistently shared and “liked.” How I wished that my more extremist friends on both sides of the political aisle would either seek to understand the other’s view, or agree to disagree but quit with the incessant attacks against other.

I have a friend at work whom I have known at least 25 years, having worked together in various career choices within our company. I even worked for her for a time as well. I counseled her spiritually when she was contemplating divorcing her husband, and have “liked” the pictures she has shared on Facebook of her various vacations with her daughter. I’ll call her Joanna (that’s not her real name). Joanna is an educated, smart, beautiful woman with a stunning daughter, great job, strong personality, and a habit of speaking her mind and being very quick to laugh. She is also a Democrat, the likes of which I had not realized until this election. In the weeks leading up to the election, the frequency with which she shared liberal-leaning news reports that focused on Trump’s flaws and foibles increased. I never considered un-friending or blocking her, because I figured that it would be over as soon as the election was.

Boy howdy, was I wrong.
 

Read more...

Hubris

The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!

                                                            Daniel 4:30-31

I distinctly remember learning about the concept of hubris in 10th grade AP class when we delved into Greek mythology. The literary definition of hubris is “extreme pride and arrogance shown by a character that ultimately brings about his downfall.” I discovered the epitome of hubris while reading Daniel the other morning in the person of King Nebuchadnezzar.
 

We meet King Nebuchadnezzar in the first chapter of Daniel, when he besieges Jerusalem. He learns about Daniel’s God in chapter 2, when God reveals and interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream through Daniel, and he declares Him to be all knowing. In chapter 3, after the fiery furnace, he declares God all-powerful and decrees death to anyone who speaks against Him. And in the beginning of chapter 4, we read from the hand of Nebuchadnezzar himself as he shares his dream and seeks Daniel’s interpretation of it (which his own magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers were unable to give).

The king’s vision was quite extreme. A troubled Daniel explains the meaning of the dream saying, “The tree you saw.. it is you who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth. … but… the tree shall be chopped down, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen…seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he chooses. (emphasis mine) … “your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. .. break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.”
 
The king has been given a glimpse into his future, as well as the insight on how to potentially overcome (and avoid?) the consequences. Who among us wouldn’t want to be in his position?

Read more...

Micromanager

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

                                                                        Philippians 4:6

“…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”                   

                                                                        1 Peter 5:7

One of my former coworkers from IT (Information Technology) is a project manager. She used to be a software developer, so she has a logical mind. It’s a fairly common career progression to go from developer to project manager, exchanging solution-oriented analysis tasks and if-then statements for budgets, schedules, and numerous spreadsheets. She cut her teeth on smaller budgeted projects, and has now worked her way into managing high quality software development efforts with teams that span the globe.

Sylvia (not her real name) is a nice enough person. Never married, she lives with her mom, and takes care of her. She does not seem to have anyone special in her life, and she constantly works late (yes, there is a causal connection, I’m sure). When she sends emails, she includes everyone and their cousin, and their cousin’s friend’s nephew, to ensure that no one is left out of the communication. She includes “read receipts” on her emails, and she files those responses in special folders on her computer. She can seem inflexible at times when it comes to the project schedule or monies, and thus requires a fair amount of lead time and special handling when there is a change in direction.


Read more...

Three-word Gems

For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.

                                                           

Ecclesiastes 5:2b

 

We are studying the book of John in our Monday lunchtime bible study at work. One verse in particular spoke to me, in its depth despite its brevity. It got me thinking about other three-word verses that powerfully convey His word:

God is love

Feed My Sheep

Love Your Enemies

Come, Holy Spirit

He is risen!


Read more...

What a Privilege

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God

                                                           

Philippians 4:6

‘Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

                                                           

James 5:16

 

I had the opportunity to hear a message over the weekend at an event for a Walk to Emmaus. The message was about opportunity and attitude, and having the right one at that. The pastor recited an anecdote about renowned opera singer Beverly Sills, who had been at an evening reception given in her honor. She’d rehearsed all afternoon and still had an entire opera to perform later that night. Her hostess said to her, “I know you must be tired—I’m sorry you have to sing an opera tonight.” Sills responded with an emphatic “I don’t
have to sing an opera tonight. I get to sing an opera tonight.” (emphasis mine). Despite all her fame, she never forgot that it was a privilege to sing for those who came to see her perform.
 
Before the service this past Sunday, I was looking at the sign-up sheet for the prayer vigil that will take place on October 15. It is something that our church used to participate in, and one that I know we talked about bringing back when I was still on the Worship committee last year. In fact, this devotional originally started out as prayer vigil—a virtual one, that is. The original premise was that every week I would send prayer requests that people turned in, and then on the Wednesday of each week, at midnight, 6:00 a.m., noon, or 6:00 p.m., folks would pray for each request (that’s where the acronym SUPV comes from—Straight Up Prayer Vigil.. clever, yes?). I then started writing more, and voila! You poor people can’t stop hearing from me! But I digress..

Read more...

Send me

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

                                                            Isaiah 6:8

 

 

I’ve been seeking. I have sought for a while now to know God’s calling for my life. I thought I understood Him to tell me before that He’d be sending me to third world countries to share His word (I’ve even mentioned that fact in a couple of SUPVs!). It’s been a while, however, since I thought I understood that; now I’m wondering if I wasn’t so eager to hear from Him in some capacity that I didn’t make it all up…wishful thinking, you know?

I think I can honestly say that I’m not seeking to know what to expect in the future – I’m not trying to get ahead of Him and understand the plan so that I’m not ill prepared when “it” finally happens. I know that everything is in His timing and in His plan, and I’ve left all of the details to Him (how gracious of me, hmm?). If He wants me to clean toilets in an orphanage in Mumbai, He’ll make it happen. If He wants me to volunteer in hospice or elderly care, He’ll make that happen, too. Those arrangements and details are all His, and He will be glorified throughout.

No, I think the impetus behind my seeking is a need to quell the fear or uncertainty 
that He might not have something in mind for me that is different than what I’m doing right now, 
Now please don’t get me wrong—I enjoy doing the things that I am doing. I do! And I do realize the importance of striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman, and I am far from being one—so I have a lot of growing to still do in that opportunity. I fully admit to that. No, I think that my problem is that I am expecting something grandiose to present itself—an opportunity custom made for me, or a sign pointing to said tailor-made prospect for me. Dell even commented as such in a sidebar conversation at Sunday School one Sunday—I think I’d known it for a while but had not fully realized it until he said it.

Read more...

Grown Up Clothes

I delight greatly in the Lord;
 my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,

 

                                                Isaiah 61:10a

 

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

                                                Galatians 3:26-27

 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

                                                2 Corinthians 5:21

I’m sure most of you possess, as I do, a picture or two of your children or grandchildren as little ones in diapers, wearing adult shoes, or playing dress up in Mommy’s dresses. I had two boys, as did my sister, so I never experienced tea parties with pearls, makeup, and dresses, but I have seen pictures of coworkers’ daughters and granddaughters as such. It’s always so cute to see those little bodies, walking ever so slowly lest they trip in oversized shoes or outfits. To see someone so small try to act so grown up, invoking the character and promise that the adult clothes provide, is touching and heartwarming. Oh… the memories–am I right?

 


Read more...