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.

Poker Face

 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…

 

                                                James 1:19

 

If you’ve not had the opportunity to be in a meeting, discussion, or even Sunday School class, allow me to share something about myself that you will easily find out when we are in such a meeting, discussion, or class together: I do not have a poker face. My lack of such a thing is the source for much joviality for a set of co-workers in my previous department, where most of us worked together for about nine years, give or take a couple. Everyone knew my thoughts on the topic of discussion—all anyone had to do was but to look at my face. One of the executive directors who was the sponsor of my projects found it particularly amusing to sit himself directly so that my face was in his line of sight, so expressive were my reactions to various opinions and thoughts. (Once I realized what he was doing, I would move ever so slightly behind the person sitting next to me, just to thwart his plan of merriment). It’s gotten to be such a thing that a good friend posted this to my Facebook wall saying that it is so me:

 

Poker face

 

Made me giggle when I saw it.

 

I’d never sought to control it, because I’d never really felt I needed to. I’d worked with everyone in my old area for so long that we all fell into familiar patterns and knew what to expect from each other. We never took anything personally (though in hindsight, it did take us a little bit to get to that place) and we delivered really great software and experiences. Plus, it was part of who I was—how I expressed myself.

 


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Identity

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

                                                Galatians 3:26-28

 

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

 

            1 Peter 2:9-10

 

As we barrel down towards Election Day, I’m seeing an increasing number of Facebook posts in my newsfeed from my friends who are on both sides of the political spectrum. I seem to have more Facebook friends who are in the conservative, Republican category, and I’m always a bit surprised at who of my Facebook friends is a Democrat. There are also posts by those who are avid Second Amendment supporters, and those who are ardent gun control advocates; others from those fundamentally against vaccinations, and those who can’t fathom why vaccination is even an issue; Aggies and Longhorns; heck, I even have some Army versus Navy folks in my Facebook feed as well. But if you read my newsfeed, you might wonder how my views align with those who post and share things in the wonderful thing that is Facebook. Were you to look at my Facebook wall (my home page, for all intents and purposes), you’d see an amalgam of my comments about the Cowboys, the Spurs, rescued dog videos, military service salutes and shout outs, Bible verses that have brought me comfort, and an errant comment about my total lack of a poker face. But who am I, really? Who would the world say I am, based on my Facebook newsfeed and wall? When you think about it, it is surprising that I don’t suffer from an identity crisis!

 


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Breathe

The Spirit of God has made me,
And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

                                                           

Job 33:4

 

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

                                                            John 20:22

I was reviewing relaxation exercises with my physical therapist, as part of therapy for some hypertonic muscles (which means that the muscles are overly stretched out and lengthened from having too much tone and tension). As she went over the concept of diaphragmatic breathing with me, I was struck at how similar its effects were with those of calling on the Holy Spirit, both eliciting the same action. You see, in diaphragmatic breathing, (you may have heard as belly breathing or abdominal breathing), you breathe in deeply but instead of your chest rising, it’s your belly that does. Air comes in through your nose and completely fills your lungs, unlike “chest breathing”, which has shorter and more shallow breaths that limits the diaphragm’s range of motion, which in turn can increase tension and anxiety. With the deeper breathing, you receive the benefit of a full oxygen exchange, which can lead to a slower heartbeat and lower blood pressure. It is one of the first steps in evoking the relaxation response, which in turn can enable your brain to override your muscles’ response to stress. (No, I’m not going to get all New Age-y on you. No Transcendental Meditation, I promise. It’s just a good idea to try not to have stress build up, that’s all. It’s toxic.) It takes concentration and a conscious and deliberate focus on your breathing to do it correctly. The plus side: when you’re concentrating on your breathing, you can’t focus on those things that were bothering you. You actually disarm them!

 


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The Anchor of Hope

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. 

                                                            Hebrews 6:19-20

 

I received a laptop at work, one that allows me to remote to a virtual machine, so I can take that laptop anywhere and have full access to my desktop. I’ve been waiting to get it, not only because it is overwhelmingly convenient and portable to do my work anywhere, but also because I get to decorate it! Okay, okay. No, I’m not a twelve-year old girl, wanting to decorate my lunchbox with unicorn and rainbow stickers, but I did want to find something that represented me to the world. Others had decorated their laptops with stickers of their alma maters, their military affiliation, their favorite sports teams; I wanted something subtle but true to Him. After much searching and comparing on Amazon, I ordered a sticker that was an amalgam of a cross and an anchor framed by a heart. It was a depiction of 1 Corinthians 13:13 (and now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love). I’ve had a couple of questions about the sticker from co-workers, with one gentleman voicing what I’d originally thought: “the cross and the heart I get, for faith and love, but depicting hope as a ship’s anchor was not something that readily comes to mind.”


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Revival

Will You not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?
Show us Your mercy, Lord,
And grant us Your salvation

 

                                   

                  Psalm 85: 6-7

 

Note: Let me start off by saying that I did not mean to offend anyone with last week’s devotional. I am sorry if anyone was offended.
 

I don’t know how long our church’s prayer group has been meeting. I do know that I’ve been attending almost every Thursday evening since March of 2011. Regular attendees have numbered in the about six; we’ve been down to two on a rare occasion. We’ve had the pleasure of having visitors join us—Bridgett and Pastor Terrell have come over a couple of times after their 7:00 bible study; one other time we were joined by a young lady in desperate need of prayer who was driving by and saw our lights on (to God be the glory!). Our meetings are a chance to fellowship, an opportunity to delve into the scripture and exchange ideas and understandings of it, an occasion where healings have occurred, and a chance to pray not only for ourselves and individuals in our church, but also for our church corporately. As we pray, the Fellowship Hall narthex becomes a holy place, thick with the Holy Spirit’s presence.

I have felt for quite a long time that our church is on the precipice of a dramatic change, that the headiness and awe that I’ve felt at those prayer meetings because of His abundant presence would be something felt by people on Sunday mornings, too. I have experienced communion with the Lord during Kevin’s sermons, and I so want others to do the same. I have prayed for revival in our church, and you’ll note that that same prayer request is listed almost weekly, in one form or another, lest it become rote.

And I’ve waited.

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Lives Matter

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
                                            Galatians 3:26-28

 

The other evening, I stumbled upon the movie “Remember the Titans”, which I’d never seen. It depicted the true story of a school’s first racially integrated high school football team in 1971, with Denzel Washington as the head coach Herman Boone. I missed a little bit of the beginning, but understood the gist of the atmosphere at the football camp, where most of the white and black young men unlearned what they’d been taught all their lives: how to dislike, hate, and be afraid of someone whose color was not like theirs. I say “most of the…” because there were some young men who had no problem getting along with anyone and there were a couple who could not adapt and learn tolerance and acceptance. It hurt my heart to see them, as well as some adults in the movie, have such hardened hearts (near the beginning of the movie, before the winning season was fully realized) and such vitriol for another human being. I’m sure the enemy was waving his hands with glee during that time, knowing that hatred has a life of its own, and that all he needed to do was fan its flame occasionally.

Now, understand this: I’m not pointing fingers at anyone who was involved in this. I understand that it was cultural, that it was passed down generation to generation, and that change is difficult. It’s difficult to challenge status quo, especially if your family or social circle is fine with status quo. (Please note: I am not trying to offend anyone, and if you are offended, please do accept my apologies. I was not there (a wee bit too young); I am not judging you, nor am I trying to make apologies for you. Not my job.)

Right now this country is boiling over with rage, a veritable tinderbox of violence, abhorrence, and disillusion, and the politicizing and rhetoric does not help a bit. Horrible injustices are occurring, frustration is mounting, and if you’re like me, you wonder if ISIS and other of America’s enemies are just watching and waiting, figuring that we may just implode.

It can’t continue like this. 


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Chicken Little (July 6, 2016)

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

                                                                        Romans 8:37

 

When I’m in a new or unfamiliar environment, like this new job I’ve been in for the past four months, I am a self-admitted Chicken Little. At the hint of bad news or that something big and unexpected is to happen, my initial reaction is to internally freak out (and sometimes externally, much to my chagrin), and at times it is difficult for me to get into a quiet enough mental state to reach out to the Holy Spirit to guide and control the tumult of thoughts that whip around my mind (especially when it happens at work). My mind can race to the inevitable ending point of a 12,647-step race, even though the step I am now on is sixteen. I can identify the forty-seven things that can go wrong, and I can calculate the unmitigated impact on all involved. Danger, Will Robinson, danger!! It’s at this point that I text a friend or two the single word of “hedge” so they will immediately shoot up a prayer request for a hedge of protection.

I’d like to say that most of this chaos is going on behind the scenes and no one knows that I’m experiencing distress. However, and I know I’ve asked you all for this for my birthday—I don’t have a poker face and I am positive almost every single thought is flitting across my face! Fortunately, all of this happens initially in the timespan of half a minute or so, and I am of the habit lately to look downward upon hearing said bit of news, so that no one can watch my reaction to it. So, there’s that…

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Two Little Letters

 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

                                                                        Romans 8:37

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

                                                                        1 John 5:4    

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

 

Sharon (not her real name) sat, visibly upset over the promotion that her coworker Evan (not his real name) received instead of her, the one that she felt she deserved, since she had been there longer than he had, both at the job and at the company. “It’s not fair, Laura,” Sharon declared, launching into the familiar litany of complaints, “that I get passed over for promotions that are given to others, who have less experience but get the really big projects. Evan was on that one big project..no, two, but what did he do to get assigned to them? It’s all because he’s new and sits right next to the boss..,” I am loath to point out that Evan deserves the promotion over her, not only because of the high profile projects he has worked on, but also due to his innovative way of thinking, his leadership, and his initiative. Sharon, on the other hand, is a follower, relying on others to identify requirements for a software solution; she is indecisive and immature (at times), and does not always seem to take accountability for her work product. Admittedly, it is frustrating to work with her at times because of these things.

No, I did not point these things out to her. I wouldn’t do that. I offered her the proverbial ear, and pointed out areas in which she has added value. I did gently, after asking permission to give her some feedback, suggest that she needed to become more confident in her project role, which would allow her to reap benefits later on. She admitted that I probably had a point, and that she used to be confident, but ever since she had been laid off (15 years ago), she has been quite insecure. As I acknowledged how that could have affected her psyche, she fell into the familiar and very comfortable role of being the Master of Ceremonies at her own pity party. She explained that had she not been laid off, she would have already had her parking space, she would have a much higher job title and salary, and the respect that goes along with them, and so on. I nodded out of habit, for it was a pity party I’d attended several times already. I did point out that she had been hired back, though, and now has a great job with awesome benefits and got to work on some very exciting and innovative things, and tried to redirect her focus onto these things. No such luck. She was stuck, a proverbial broken record that played the same message repeatedly: “it’s not fair. It’s not my fault. I’ve gotten the raw end of the deal.”

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June 22, 2016

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there

 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there Your hand shall lead me,

And Your right hand shall hold me.

                                                            Psalm 139: 7-10

The Lord looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;

                                                            Psalm 33: 13-14     

 

Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the Lord;
“Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.

                                                            Jeremiah 23:24       

 

Our adult Sunday school class has started a new book entitled

The Mind of Christ

. The author notes, “since Christ is divine, we humans cannot be like Him in all ways. We cannot imitate His omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, infinity, immutability, and the attributes particular to divinity.” We discussed briefly that those are extremely deep and broad words to describe the Godhead, and though they were germane to the conversation, it wasn’t totally necessary to get into their meanings and impacts right now. That one of the adjectives is the topic of this devotional leads me to believe that the Holy Spirit wants us to understand more about it. Obey Him, I must!
The prefix
omni- comes from the Latin word meaning “all”, so we can understand that the word “omnipresent” means that He is all-present, everywhere, at all times, both in His created world (Psalm139 reference), and above or outside of His creation (Psalm 33 reference). While He is with you as you pray, He is also with me as I pray, as He is with the young boy in India as he prays. Actually, He is present with us as believers always (not just when we pray). The immensity of that concept alone can boggle the mind, but it is one in which we can generally relate. Allow me to expand the boggleness (bogglidity? bogglination?) just a smidge. Is God present when the bad things happen to us as believers? The scriptural and intellectual answer is yes. The Bible abounds with God’s promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. His eyes are on the righteous, and on those who fear Him, and our ways are always before Him.

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June 8, 2016

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left….

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

                                                                                    Matthew 25: 31-33; 41-46

 

We were at a prayer meeting about a year or so back, not really having started yet, when out of the blue I asked Kevin, “Do you think goats know that they are goats?” He looked startled, processed the question, and answered something like, “No, I don’t believe they do.” Time passed without anything being said until Jo Ellen broke the silence and asked what had prompted the question. I explained that it had been something that I’d been wondering for a long time, and both she and Kevin nodded slightly. It was then that it dawned on me that since I had not prefaced the question with any context whatsoever (I figured that since we were at a prayer meeting and had had numerous scriptural discussions in the past, I didn’t need to explain the context of my question. So much for my supposed great communication skills!), they thought that I was asking about the actual farm animal, apparently giving them anthropomorphic qualities of reason and self-actualization. When they realized I was asking about the goats referred to in the Great White Throne Judgment, we had a good discussion about the sheep and the goats.

I cannot help but wonder about the thoughts of the “goats” as they reflect on His response of “when?” – did they recall the times that they stepped to the other side of the road when they saw a homeless person walking on their side of the sidewalk? Did they look away in disgust after silently judging the man at the busy intersection holding the cardboard sign, asking for help? Or worse—did they summarily dismiss a whole group of people because of the color of their skin or their lifestyle or socio-economic background and not even see them at all? Did they ever feel moved by someone in need?

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