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.   
 
 
 

Suddenness

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

 

                                                            James 4:13-14

 

I used to work with a gentleman by the name of Brian who was very involved in the technical architecture of the systems we used to develop the experiences we designed for our members. It turns out we graduated high school in the same class and are just three weeks apart in age; we didn’t know each other until we met at work, though, some 22 years after high school. A small group of us bonded quickly, team members thrust together in a dynamic organizational shift.

Brian was always a very precise but lovable person, with a quick smile and an even quicker explanation for things. When I was in a meeting, he would always preface a heavy technical discussion with a “sorry, but this is going to get technical”, almost out of deference to my non-technical non-expertise. Brian was a private person and while he did share some family stuff, what he shared was positive and high level.

 He and his family went to Disney World over Spring break, and since he was tagged in a number of the photos that his wife posted to Facebook, I and all of his friends got to see Brian, his wife, their college age daughter, and high school age son enjoying all that Disney World had to offer. They seemed to be having a wonderful time at the happiest place on Earth, and I was happy for them.

 I found out Sunday afternoon from a mutual friend of ours that Brian’s wife passed away Friday (the last day of Spring break, the day before they were supposed to fly home). Apparently she had a heart condition and had not been feeling 100% the week before the vacation, but her cardiologist cleared her for travel. As evidenced by the pictures, she seemed to be doing fine. She was checking them in to get their boarding passes while Brian and the kids went to the park, and when they returned, they found her slumped over the computer. They attempted to revive her with a defibrillator and she was taken by ambulance but did not survive.

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Side Effects

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 

                                                                        1 Peter 1:6-7

 

 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 

 

                                                                        2 Corinthians 4:17

 

 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

 

Isaiah 43:2

 

 Sunday afternoon, I was chatting with my dad’s wife Helen (it feels a bit weird to refer to her as my stepmother, though that’s technically what she is to me. I was grown when she and my dad married so she never really mothered me, as it were. But I digress…). She has had innumerable health challenges in the past couple of years—it got to the point that every time I talked with her, she was sick yet again with pneumonia, or bronchitis, or some other infection she was never able to fully shake. She has asthma and chronic migraines as well. She went from doctor to doctor, never able to find a cause for her constant illnesses. She kept her hopes up, though, and her faith was rewarded not too long ago when they diagnosed her with an autoimmune disease, though they don’t know which one exactly yet. But finally, a diagnosis!

 

This Wednesday she is going to have a treatment called subcutaneous immunoglobulin infusion, in which antibodies from human plasma are injected to a person to help bolster her resistance to infections (from what I can glean from the interwebs). She is quite excited for the possibilities and promises that this treatment might bring. What’s she’s not so excited about, though, are the potential side effects she might experience. As she heard and read about some of the side effects (some of which include headaches, migraines (and as a migraine sufferer, she is more likely to develop more of them), nausea, lower back pain, and a whole host of other more serious but less likely ones), she shared with me that her first thought was that the cure seemed worse than the illness, but that she realized that the side effects were probably necessary but temporary things she would have to experience in order to get better.

 


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Identity

 

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”                                                                                                               

1 Corinthians 12:27

 

 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ

                                                                                    Philippians 3:20

 

I was with my boss and a co-worker and we’d stopped in an authentic Italian restaurant in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, jazzed about the work sessions we’d had with a vendor, and enjoying all that the city had to offer. We were sharing stories and wine and delicious food, when talk turned to our families and what they were like and how we got along with our respective families. My co-worker, who is much younger than I am, shared about his family in the valley, and said that his mom’s personality was similar to mine, and went on to share a story. I will admit that I halfway listened to his story, as I was more focused on what he meant by his mom’s personality being similar to mine. Now, I will admit that I can overanalyze with the best of them, and at one time, I was crowned the “quickest overanalyzer in the West”, beating out the best self-reflective cowboys of their time. “Did he appreciate my quick wit? My confidence and self-assurance? Was it my innate ability to see every typo, misspelling, or out-of-place pixel in a design? Or was it my quiet, introspection? My startling high degree of self-awareness?” All of these thoughts were tumbling through my head (all of these I share tongue-in-cheek). I so wanted to know what he meant by that, for while I could infer that it was a compliment by the way he said it, I was curious to know exactly what he meant, so that I could lock that nugget of information away, much like a squirrel does with its berries and nuts, storing them away for a later day. Like the proverbial squirrel keeping his for a day in which food is scarce so that he can provide nutrients for his body, I, too, stored such things away for the time I needed an emotional boost and could call to mind the kind things said about me.

 

I thought about it more the next day, and the next, not in an obsessive kind of way, but more in a self-reflective “how do I carry myself and come across” to people type of way. Taking it into the spiritual arena, I wondered if my spiritual walk properly reflected who I was in Christ, and who Christ is to me. Do I carry the love of Jesus in my heart when I talk to people? Do I live my testimony for all to see, confident that folks will have no doubt at all when they interact with me? I know who I am in Christ—can others see that?

 

Sadly, when I look back at the times I was at my worst “self”, or even if it didn’t get that far, I grimace at the realization that my Christianity is lost within the backdrop of the circumstances I was in, or the crowd I was with. Sometimes my actions detracted from the potential unrealized mission opportunity I was on; sometimes the words I said did not bring the glory to God that I intended them to.

 

I am confident in the fact that those situations occur less frequently than normal, and I am aware enough to strive to be more diligent to avoid being in the situations to begin with. Each day brings with it a whole boatload of opportunity and with the Holy Spirit’s conviction to guide me, I pray that I am able to match the outward person to the inward Christ-filled person, all to the glory of God.

 

 

Prayer Requests

  • For our government leaders at all levels, local and global, for them seek His will in all things
  • For those who with physical, emotional, or mental conditions (or some combination thereof), and their caretakers, family, and friends
  • For those with the church universal who are burned out in the field of service, who may feel underappreciated but feel that they can’t make a change without guilt
  • For those within the church universal who are lost

                                                                                                                       

So I’ve shared with you how I look at myself, and in just a few of the areas in which I fall short. My rhetorical question to you is… what about you? How do you think folks see you? Do they see or feel the love of Jesus in you?

 

Quotes

“God will convict you in order to change you, but will never accuse you in order to shame you.”

 

“The Bible is the only book where the author is in love with the reader.”



Together

 

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…  that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

                                                                                    1 Corinthians 12: 12; 25-26        

…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;…

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

                                                                                    Ephesians 4: 3-4; 11-13

I have adhesive capsulitis, which is also known as frozen shoulder, in my left shoulder. I think I’ve had it for about a year now, though it started out as tendinitis in my rotator cuff (guess there goes my pitching career-drat!). I did not have any trauma or injury to my shoulder or rotator cuff; I didn’t realize anything had happened until I was having a massage and the therapist brought my arm behind my back and it surprisingly hurt! I originally sought pain relief through Airrosti but it didn’t quite cure it, and when the pain got worse, and X-rays revealed no tears, I went to an orthopedist and physical therapist. I’ve been in physical therapy for at least eight months now, dutifully going twice a week. I’ve also had two corticosteroid injections into my shoulder joint. The first one helped with the pain; the second one did nothing. My range of motion is still limited, but it is improving—I can reach a little higher than I used to be able to, and when the pain occurs, it does not last as long as it used to. At my next appointment with my orthopedist, I know the topic of discussion will most likely be what is called an MUA – manipulation under anesthesia where they put you under, move the shoulder joint to break of up all of the adhesions, and then you’re set but with a bear of physical therapy to do—but I doubt I’ll pursue that. It sounds a bit extreme and I think I can just live with this. I just want you to know about all of this so that if I don’t put my left arm around you, or raise it up while we’re all holding hands at the end of the service, you’ll know why!

Each time I see the physical therapist and the orthopedist, they check my range of motion. Try as I might, I cannot lift my left arm straight above my head without leaning back, a subconscious technique called overcompensating. Since my shoulder has its limitations, other muscle groups work harder to offset the limited range. My left arm is noticeably weaker than my right, and the muscles in my right shoulder, neck, and upper back are all under more strain that I’d like them to be.

 


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No Coincidences

Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’
Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
Indeed I have spoken it;
I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it;
I will also do it.

                                                               Isaiah 46:9-11

 

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

                                                               Matthew 10:29

 

A couple of weeks ago I was on my way to Starbucks at the Rim, on my way to an offsite work event. My boss had called me to see if I wanted her to get me anything since she was going; I told her that I got a free coffee for each day in January, thanks to the Christmas mug Troy got me, so I would need to get my own. When I pulled into the parking lot, I spied my boss’s car at the front of the line at the drive through, and proceeded to watch her try to get out of her car and go behind it. Thinking she had dropped her Starbucks card or credit card, I walked over to her. But she was going to the car behind hers, as it had jumped the curb and hit the building, and the driver was a man we both worked with! He’d been slumped over in the driver’s seat, and was coming to when she opened the passenger door, not realizing that she knew him until he came to and looked at her. He didn’t recognize her at first. A customer who was a doctor came out of Starbucks, along with the store manager. The doctor attended to our friend in the front seat, and I got into the back seat to be with our friend (we’ll call him Todd), while my boss went to direct traffic out of the drive through lane, as Todd’s car was sitting catawampus, blocking traffic from pulling forward. (We joked later that her strength is logistics, and my strength is compassion.)

 


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Love

Let all that you do be done with love.

                                                               1 Corinthians 16:14
 

And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

                                                                Matthew 22:39

 

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.                                               

                                                               Romans 13: 9-10 

 

A couple of weeks ago I watched the Pentatonix Christmas special. They are an acclaimed a capella band whose music has brought me to tears. The majority of the songs they performed on their show were Christian, leading me to Google to see if they were considered a Christian band (no, they aren’t, though the beat boxer Kevin is a Christian). In one article I read, I went on to read the comments. The first comment I read exhorted Christians to stop sharing videos of the band singing Christian songs (their rendition of Mary, Did You Know? made its way into my Facebook feed numerous times during the Christmas season), and to essentially boycott concerts and buying albums, because two of the band members were openly gay, and that by not refusing to listen to them, we were contributing to the dilution of the Christian message in the world. The commenter went on to say that “false gospel of acceptance” has made its way into the church, and that scripture is being challenged on issues of sexual morality and other things, and churches are taking a looser stand on these issues.
 


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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)

 


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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.

 


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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.

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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.
 

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